Earthquakes that have initiated the development of earthquake engineering
The recent 75th anniversary of the 1931 Hawke’s Bay Earthquake reminds us that a particular earthquake can have a great effect on the development of engineering methods to contend with this natural hazard. Factors other than the occurrence of a single earthquake are also present before and after such a historically important event, and there are examples of countries that began on the path toward modern earthquake engineering in the absence of any particular earthquake playing an important causal role. An earthquake that was large in seismological (e.g. magnitude) or engineering (e.g. destructiveness) measures may have had little effect on engineering tools developed to contend with the earthquake problem. The history of earthquake engineering is not merely a set of events rigidly tied to a chronology of major earthquakes. Nonetheless, some significant earthquakes have been step function events on the graph of long-term progress in earthquake engineering. Only earthquakes that bring together several prerequisites have had such historic effects, creating in a country a beachhead for earthquake engineering that persisted in the following decades. In this brief historical review, the following seminal earthquakes are discussed: 1906 Northern California, United States; 1908 Reggio-Messina, Italy; 1923 Kanto, Japan; 1931 Mach and 1935 Quetta, India-Pakistan; 1931 Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand.
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