Would NYC brownstones withstand a sizable earthquake?
blog by S.J. Velasquez • February 12, 2013 @ 3:07pm
New York City brownstones, though appearing solid and enduring, would probably crumble if an earthquake of significant magnitude hit the Big Apple, UB researchers hypothesize.
On Monday, members of the school’s Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (MCEER) will have a better idea of how badly a quake might affect New York’s unreinforced masonry rowhouses after simulating an actual earthquake with structures almost identical to the city’s iconic brownstone homes.
The simulated quake, designed to imitate the 2011 Virginia quake felt along the East Coast, is a test to determine “property loss and potential human casualties,” if an earthquake of this size were to occur underneath New York City.
Large-scale earthquakes are rare in that region, but not out of the question. If one similar to the 2011 quake did occur in the greater New York City metropolitan region, researchers believe the brownstone structures would fall apart.
“New York City is not a high seismic zone, but the risk there is significant because of the existing infrastructure and large population,” Juan Aleman, Fulbright scholar in UB’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, said in a statement. “With this test, we hope to learn how buildings will react to a quake similar to the one that struck Virginia in 2011.”