RAPID/Collaborative Research: Post-Disaster, Reinforced Concrete Building Performance Data Collection following the April 25, 2015 Nepal Earthquake

Investigator(s): Andreas Stavridis

Funding Source: National Science Foundation

Abstract: The magnitude 7.8 Ghorka, Nepal earthquake that occurred on April 25, 2015, and the many aftershocks that followed significantly affected Nepal, causing significant human loss as well as widespread structural damage and ground failure. The building stock in the affected regions predominantly consists of poorly engineered unreinforced masonry buildings. However, approximately 25 per cent of the buildings consist of reinforced concrete (RC) frames infilled with masonry walls. This structural system was widely used in the 1920s and 1930s in California as well as in the Pacific Northwest; hence, understanding the damage to this structural system from the Nepal earthquake has direct implications for the seismic performance of a large number of buildings in metropolitan areas in the United States. 

This rapid response research will focus on post-earthquake assessment of existing RC building frames with masonry infill in Nepal. A team of three researchers and three graduate students will travel to Nepal to collect perishable field data and perform detailed assessments of the seismic performance of 25-30 buildings. The team will acquire, process, and archive architectural and structural data, including building drawings, in residential buildings and critical facilities such as schools and hospitals. The data will be obtained through visual inspections and geo-referenced, three-dimensional (3D), ground-based Lidar scans and Structure from Motion, i.e., 3D reconstructions from two-dimensional photographs, thus providing detailed, quantitative damage measurements. This collected data will be made publicly available to enable future research to advance computational modeling and structural analysis for understanding the seismic performance of RC frame with masonry infill buildings. This collected data will provide new earthquake reconnaissance case studies of RC frame with infill buildings and will be used to evaluate current U.S. guidelines for assessment of existing structures. Moreover, it will serve to inform local rebuilding and recovery efforts in Nepal though close collaboration with local agencies in Nepal. The research team will collaborate with researchers and practicing engineers from Italy, Nepal, and Portugal. This project will also provide foreign research experiences for graduate students and further strengthen ties among the engineering research communities in the United States, Nepal, and European Union.