Updated: 05-Jun-2003 May 2003

12-13 May 2003


Protecting buildings in earthquake zones

Innovative ways of reinforcing buildings that were not built to withstand strong earthquakes were presented at a NATO Science for Peace workshop held in Izmir, Turkey, on 12 and 13 May 2003.

The two-day workshop was a mid-term review of three NATO Science for Peace projects, which were launched in 2000 as a special initiative following the devastating earthquakes that struck Greece and Turkey in 1999. The participants were experts from earthquake research centres in Greece, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia(1) and Turkey.

Earthquakes themselves are not a disaster. The disaster occurs when buildings in an earthquake zone fail, burying a great number of their inhabitants under their rubble,” said one of the workshop participants, explaining the significance of the research.

Preventing disasters

Experts presented their research on methods of assessing the safety of buildings and on experiments with materials to reinforce unsafe buildings. The new techniques, which will be proposed to owners of houses, insurance companies and local authorities, must be user-friendly, cost effective and comfortable for the inhabitants when applied. This could include reinforcing buildings with special materials and support structures.

The participants also identified the need for introducing compulsory earthquake insurance in countries situated in earthquake zones. Raising the insurance premium for houses, which have been identified as being at high risk for severe damage or even collapse, would give an important incentive to house owners to reinforce their property, if necessary.

But in the end, participants said, the ultimate responsibility lies with the governments of the countries under threat. It is up to them to establish adequate procedures to ensure the control of buildings and the punishment of those responsible in the case of non-compliance with the seismic code, the experts pointed out.

Science for Peace

The projects and the workshop are jointly supported by NATO and TUBITAK, the Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey and part of NATO’s Science for Peace programme. The programme offers support to partner countries in their transition towards a market-oriented, environmentally-sound economy. It supports applied research and development projects in partner countries, that relate to industrial or environmental problems, when such problems involve collaboration between science and industry or between science and other end-users

Additional information:

  1. Turkey recognises the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.