Sichuan, China Earthquake Research Projects

A team of earthquake researchers, sponsored by the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) and the Geo-Engineering Earthquake Reconnaissance (GEER) Association, will join Chinese colleagues to investigate and document scientific and engineering effects of the devastating Sichuan earthquake (magnitude 7.9) that occurred in Wenchuan County, China, on May 12, 2008.

EQ Seminar Video

  • Zifa Wang & expert panel will discuss Sichuan Earthquake
  • Seminar available in 4 video files
  • Requires Flash player
  • Video seminar web page

The research team - under the leadership of Marshall Lew of MACTEC Engineering and Consulting in Los Angeles, California - includes experts in structural, lifelines, and geotechnical engineering as well as disaster response and recovery.

The team will spend 9 days in the field, collecting data and documenting observations, paying particular attention to the impacts on people, the differing performance of similar structures, the quick government action that saved a large number of homeless, and the enormous challenges facing China in terms of relief and rebuilding.

In addition to Marshall Lew, the team includes:

The May 12 earthquake is the worst to strike China since the 1976 Tangshan event that claimed an estimated 242,000 lives. The Sichuan earthquake:

  • affected more than 100,000 square miles and about 30 million people;
  • caused the deaths of more than 69,000 people, injured some 360,000 others, left many more homeless;
  • destroyed more than 7 million houses, and damaged more than 24 million buildings in Sichuan Province and the surrounding regions;
  • collapsed more than 7,000 school buildings and buried thousands of students and teachers; approximately 18,000 individuals are still missing.

EERI is part of an international consortium that is developing a unique Virtual Disaster Viewer (VDV), a website with satellite images superimposed with data, such as that being collected from the disaster zone by the EERI–GEER team in China. The purpose of the VDV is to enable preliminary loss estimation remotely, from satellite imagery, before investigators visit affected areas, and to enable loss estimation of inaccessible areas.

The results will be fully viewable and available to the public, promoting awareness of earthquake risk and research. The other consortium members are the Earthquake Engineering Field Investigation Team of the Institution of Structural Engineers in London, ImageCat Ltd. of London, and MCEER at the University at Buffalo, New York.