MAE Center Researchers Amr Elnashai and Bora Gencturk Participate in 27 February 2010 Chile Earthquake Field Mission
The team visited the Catholic University of Chile, University of Concepcion and University of Chile to exchange information. It was agreed with the Chilean researchers to extend collaboration and work on joint publications.
The team travelled from Santiago to Concepcion and back in three groups (structures, geotechnical and transportation), investigating the effects of the earthquake on buildings, bridges, port structures, dams, and roads. Sites exhibiting geotechnical effects such as liquefaction, slope failures and lateral spreading were also visited by the geotechnical group. The head of Department of Media and Cinema Studies at the University of Illinois, Professor Angharad Valdivia, made observations on the role and effectiveness of media in the aftermath of the earthquake.
It was observed that, given the large magnitude of the earthquake, the infrastructure in general has performed well. Only a very small number of buildings and bridges collapsed. Typical failures in high-rise buildings were due to insufficient confinement of concrete in structural walls and irregularities in plan and elevation. Bridges failed due to unseating of the deck resulting from either insufficient bearing widths or failure of shear keys. Extensive damage was observed to adobe houses in Talca. Some of the historical structures were also damaged to various extents in Concepcion and Talca. Ports of Talcahuano and Coronel suffered from tsunami, lateral spreading and failure of retaining walls and they are under inoperable conditions. The highway connecting Santiago to Concepcion (Route 5) was damaged at more than 300 locations due to the earthquake. Pavement failures constituted the majority of damages that caused the interruption of the flow of traffic.
The MAE Center team is currently working on a report to be published in the coming months that includes seismological, structural, geotechnical, and social investigations in addition to a detailed assessment of the causes of the heavy damage inflicted on the transportation system. The Illinois researchers are also cooperating with colleagues from the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile on a special issue of the Journal of Earthquake Engineering. Funding for the trip was provided by a number of organizations, including the MAE Center, GEER, UConn, Missouri S and T, GT and Inha University.