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MCEER Investigator, Member Of Reconnaissance Team In Turkey, Says Infrastructure Is Key To Recovery in Quake Aftermath

BUFFALO, N.Y., August 20, 1999--While news reports have focused on the  construction methods that caused thousands of buildings to fail in Tuesday's earthquake in Turkey, a key to the country's recovery from the disaster is the condition of its roads and bridges in the quake's aftermath, according to an MCEER Principal Investigator and University at Buffalo engineer who is part of a reconnaissance team that is in Istanbul to evaluate the earthquake damage.

turkeybridge.jpg (43822 bytes)links.gif (937 bytes)Links for the Izmet Earthquake of 8/17/99

"A society's ability to respond to an earthquake depends to a large extent on making sure that the infrastructure is intact and operating," said John Mander, Ph.D., an expert on how bridges, highways and other transportation systems withstand earthquake damage. "Without highways and ports working, the whole society comes to its knees."  An associate professor in UB's Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, Mander also is a principal investigator with UB's Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (MCEER). He is in Turkey as part of a reconnaissance team coordinated by the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute in Oakland, Calif. MCEER is sponsoring Mander's participation.mandrquot.gif (7627 bytes)

"It's mostly a fact-finding mission," said Mander. "We will be taking a lot of photos and, where appropriate, measurements in order to get some insights about why structures collapsed."  Mander said that it is intriguing as to why some structures sustain little earthquake damage while others nearby fail -- outcomes that can be affected by the nature of the ground on which they are built and the soil, as well as by the nature of the earthquake waves. "In my view, more can be learned by seeking out near-failures of structures, or what we might call 'mild successes,' than by looking at structures that failed completely," he said.

Mander will be especially interested in what he can learn from bridges and highways as they pertain to the work he is currently conducting with MCEER colleagues on a federally funded project to improve the seismic performance of the surface transportation system in the U.S. The project, which has received more than $24 million in contracts from the U.S. Department of Transportation since 1992, includes studies of the seismic vulnerability of federal-aid highways, bridges and tunnels, as well research to develop technologies to retrofit structures and develop design requirements for new highway construction.

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