What happens when an earthquake hits a building already damaged by coastal flooding?


External Collaborators: National Science Foundation, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, Western Washington University

Project Description

Three researchers.

This study investigates the effects that earthquakes have on buildings that have already been damaged from saltwater due to sea level rise. With a $2 million award from the National Science Foundation over 5 years, CSEE associate professors and project investigators Pinar Okumus, PhD, Negar Elhami-Khorasani, PhD, and Ravi Ranade, PhD, research and assess civil engineering risks in Hawai’i and other regions with low-lying, coastal infrastructure.

The project will involve the use of “test beds,” which are a way to apply the research findings to a site to demonstrate the potential impact on that site. The site can be a real place or a virtual city that can be modified to represent features specific to selected areas.

The project’s first phase will examine the physical characteristics of hazards and infrastructure: flood depth, frequency, and duration; buildings of different types including steel and concrete structures; buildings with different levels of corrosion; and the severity of seismic activity.

Researchers will develop structural models of different building types and different levels of corrosion caused by salt, not just from seawater but also from the salt in the atmosphere near oceans. Once the data is collected and research results are ready to be shared with the community, social scientists will engage stakeholders, including emergency planners and policymakers in coastal regions, as well as residents and business owners. The researchers will suggest effective mitigation options.

“We want to make sure our results are not going to sit on a shelf,” says lead project investigator Okumus. “I do expect challenges, but you can’t do exciting things without challenges.”

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