Building Codes Make A Seismic Difference

December 7, 2018
Paxson Woelber [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons
When a 7.0-magnitude earthquake recently hit Alaska near Anchorage on November 30th, people expected the worst. But although the quake damaged many properties and roadways, it didn’t cause any deaths or large-scale damage to buildings. When earthquakes that big strike other parts of the world, there is often severe damage, with buildings collapsing and people being injured or killed. So how did Alaska fair so much better this time?

Well, one reason might be that this recent earthquake was not as intense as Alaska’s last earthquake in 1964—that was a 9.2-magnitude quake! But that aside, two important words made all the difference in how people and property were somewhat protected this time around: building codes. You see, the1964 quake caused immense damage to people and properties, so the state passed much stricter building codes that would protect people in case of future earthquakes. Builders were required to pass stringent tests to ensure that buildings would survive disasters such as earthquakes.

Alaska might still be working its way back to normalcy as roads get repaired and people assess relatively small damage to their homes and communities, but many are sure thankful for those building codes!

Good luck, Alaska!