Civil Engineering Professor Documents Experience Studying Mexico Earthquake

Photo courtesy of Clint Wood

Clint Wood in Mexico City.

Civil engineering professor Clint Wood traveled to Mexico City and Puebla, Mexico, last week to study the recent earthquake’s impact on buildings and infrastructure. He was chosen to participate in a Geotechnical Extreme Events Reconnaissance, or GEER, mission sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

As a geotechnical earthquake engineer, Wood focuses his research on dynamic soil characterization. He uses broadband seismometers to measure low-intensity stress waves. By measuring the frequency and wavelength of these waves as they pass through arrays of seismometers, he can estimate the shear-wave velocity and layering of the soil underneath the arrays. Understanding the shear-wave velocity of the soil helps engineers understand ground motions recorded during earthquakes and contributes to the design of buildings that can better withstand various stress waves created by earthquakes.

Below is Wood’s account of his experience:

Early in our trip, we spent two days in a neighborhood of Mexico City called La Condesa, where several areas had a number of buildings either collapse or sustain heavy damage, while other areas of Mexico City were relatively unaffected. Teams assessed damage to each building, documented building type and recorded settlement and/or crack measurements.

Masonry damage to a church in Santa Rosa Treinta.
Bridge failures severed lifelines to rural areas.
Wood observed buildings that had one floor collapse while all other levels remained intact.

I made shear-wave-velocity and site-frequency measurements in both damaged and undamaged areas to understand the role the soil…

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