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5 Bureau of Indian Standards for Earthquake Design

In our country, several major earthquakes have occurred in the Himalayan-
Nagalushai region, Indo-Gangetic Plain, Western India, Kutch and
Kathiawar regions. Taking into account seismic data from studies of these
Indian earthquakes, Bureau of Indian Standard first published IS 1893
“Recommendations for earthquake resistant design of structures” in 1962
and revised in 1966. Considering the local seismology, accepted level of
seismic risk, building topologies and materials and methods used in
construction, presently the Bureau of Indian Standards has the following
seismic codes:
11. IS 1893 (Part 1), 2002; Indian Standard Criteria for Earthquake
Resistant Design of Structures (5th Revision),

12. IS 1893 has other four parts: (a) Part 2 for liquid retaining tanks–
elevated and ground supported, (b) Part 3 for bridges and retaining walls,
(c) Part 4 for industrial structures including stack like structures and (d)
Part 5 for dams and embankments. However, they are yet to be finalised.
Hence, provisions of Part 1 will be read along with relevant clauses of IS
1893: 1984 for structures other than buildings.
13. IS 4326: 1993, Indian Standard Code of Practice for Earthquake
Resistant Design and Construction of Buildings, (2nd Revision),

14. IS 13827: 1993, Indian Standard Guidelines for Improving

Earthquake Resistance of Earthen Buildings,

15. IS 13828: 1993, Indian Standard Guidelines for Improving

Earthquake Resistance of Low Strength Masonary Buildings,

16. IS 13920: 1993, Indian Standard Code of Practice for Ductile

Detailing of Reinforced Concrete Structures Subjected to Seismic Forces,

17. IS 13935: 1993, Indian Standard Guidelines for Repair and Seismic
Strengthening of Buildings.

The regulations of these standards will not result in structures having no

damage during earthquake of all magnitudes. However, the regulations
shall ensure that, as far as possible, structures will be able to respond
without structural damage to shocks of moderate intensities and without
total collapse to shocks of heavy intensities.

116.39.6 General Principles of Earthquake Resistant Design of Structures

1a) Ground motion

The characteristic parameters like intensity, duration etc. of seismic ground

vibrations depend upon the magnitude of the earthquake, its depth of
focus, distance from the epicentre, properties of soil or medium
through which the seismic waves travel and the soil strata where the
structure stands. The random earthquake motions can be resolved in
any three mutually perpendicular directions. The horizontal direction
is normally the prominent direction. Vertical acceleration is
considered in large-span structures.
The response of a structure to ground vibrations depends on the nature of
foundation soil, form, material, size and mode of construction of
structures and the duration and characteristics of ground motion.
1(b) Assumptions

The following are the assumptions in the earthquake resistant design of

11. Impulsive ground motions of earthquake are complex, irregular in
character, changing in period and time and of short duration. They,
therefore, may not cause resonance as visualised under steady-state
sinusoidal excitations, except in tall structures founded on deep soft

12. Wind, maximum flood or maximum sea waves will not occur
simultaneously with the earthquake.

13. For static analysis, elastic modulus of materials shall be taken

unless otherwise mentioned.
16.39.10 Objectives of Earthquake Resistant Design of Structures
It is uneconomical to design structures to withstand major earthquakes
elastically. Therefore, the trend of the design is that the structure should have
sufficient strength and ductility to withstand large tremors elastically. For
this the interconnections of the members must be designed particularly to
ensure sufficient ductility.
Accordingly, the design approach adopted in IS 1893 (Part 1): 2002 is stated
in cl 6.1.3 of the standard which is as follows:
The design approach is to ensure the following:
1(a) that structures possess at least a minimum strength to withstand
minor earthquakes (〈DBE), which occur frequently, without damage;

1(b) that structures resist moderate earthquakes (DBE) without significant

structural damage though some non-structural damage may occur; and

1(c) that structures withstand major earthquakes (MCE) without collapse.

116.40.8 Design for Ductility

The objectives of the ductile design of reinforced concrete members

are to ensure both strength and ductility for the designed structures or
members. Strength of members can be assured by proper design of the
sections following limit state method. However, for ensuring ductility,
specific recommendations are to be followed as given in IS 13920:1993
regarding the materials, dimensions, minimum and maximum percentages of
reinforcement. Further, detailing of reinforcement plays an important role.
Accordingly, some of the major steps to be followed in the design are given
below which will ensure sufficient ductility in the design.

What are Earthquakes?

Earthquakes are powerful manifestations of sudden releases of strain energy

accumalatead during extensive time intervals. They radiate seismic waves of
various types which propogate in all directions through the Earth's interior.
The passage of seismic waves through rocks
cause shaking that we feel as earthquakes
What is a fault?

A fault is a fracture having appreciable movement parallel to the plane of the

fracture. Faults are of practical importance becuase they generate
earthquakaes. It is important to understand faults for designing the ling-term
stability of dams, bridges, buildings, power plans etc. We need to understand
the basic anatomy of faults, to appreciate their behaviour. The most obvious
feature related to faulting is the displacement of marker layers along the
actual movement surface called the fault plane.

Can earthquakes be predicted?

No. at least not their time of occurrence. However earthquake prone areas
can be identified and one can estimate the intensity of the earthquake, as and
when they would occur, in advance, to a fair degree of accuracy.

How does an earthquake damage buildings?

Ground Shaking
This is the most common and the principal cause of earthquake – induced
damage. As the earth vibrates the building on the ground starts responding to
the vibration in varying degrees depending upon how these have been
designed and constructed.

Ground Failure

There are four types of ground failures i.e., fault, landslides, settlement and
soil liquefaction.
In case of fault, the ground ruptures along a fault zone. This rapture may be
very limited or may extend over hundreds of kilometers, and can be
horizontal, vertical or both. A building, which was directly standing on this
fault will be severely damaged. Landslides can destroy a building whereas
settlement would only damage the building.
Soil Liquefaction is a phenomenon where low density saturated sands of
relatively uniform size starts behaving like a jelly with no strength to hold a
building up, and the building just sinks in or gets tilted on one side. The
phenomenon of liquefaction is particularly important for dams, bridges,
underground pipelines and buildings close to river banks, sea shore or large

These are seismic seaves and are generally produced by a sudden movement
of the ocean floor. The water waves rush towards land suddenly and with
great velocity causing havoc on coastal areas.


Earthquake does not itself cause fire, however structures can catch fire as a
consequence of damages caused by earthquake. In such cases often it is
difficult to control fire as earthquake can also cause damage to water supply
as well as cause traffic jams making access by fire fighting personnel and
equipment difficult.

Can structures be made earthquake proof?

Yes. Structures can be designed and constructed to withstand a particular

intensity of earthquake. The cost of making structures earthquake proof is
high. Therefore, only some specific types of structures such as atomic power
stations, dams, refineries where consequences of a damage to the structures
are serious need be designed to make them earthquake proof, normal
residential building can be made earthquake resistant

What is an earthquake resistant structure?

It is a structure which does not collapse during an earthquake though, at

times, it may suffer damage. The idea is to prevent the structure from
collapsing so that lives and valuable kept in the structure are saved. The
damaged part can be repaired at a fraction of the cost that one would have to
incur in making the structures earthquake proof

How does one make a structure earthquake resistant?

The exact method depends upon the type of the building being designed,
however there are some general principles, which are followed. These are:

Structures should not be brittle. It should not collapse suddenly.

Rather it should be tough and should be able to deflect or deform

Structures should not be brittle. It should not collapse suddenly.

Rather it should be tough and should be able to deflect or deform
Resisting elements such as bracing or shear walls must be provided
evenly throughout the building, in both directions, side-to-side as well
as top to bottom

All elements such as walls and the roof are tied together to retain
integrity of the structure during shaking of the structure because of
the earthquake. Pathways are provided in the building to enable
forces to get transmitted across connections and thereby separation
of parts is prevented.

Special care is taken of the foundation. It is tied together well as well

tied firmly with the walls

Material used during construction should be of good quality and

should be protected from debilitating effects of rain, sun, insects etc

Can an existing structure be made earthquake resistant?

Yes and the process is called retrofitting.

Are there any B.I.S. Standards on making structures earthquakes


Are high-rise buildings unsafe?

Not necessarily. Earthquake resistant high-rise buildings are common in

Japan and USA. In India too the requisite expertise is available, there are
several earthquake resistant structures. The catch is in the design and

What should the occupants of a building do during earthquake?

Earthquake do not cause death – buildings do. Falling heavy objects or

collapsing of walls and roofs hurt people. The collapsing walls and the
vibrations can cause short circuiting of live electric wires and cause electric
fires. A burning gas stove left to itself too can cause fire. Hence the
following steps are advised:

Keep calm
Keep away from windows, doors, almirahs, mirrors, balaconies etc.
Stay away from falling bricks or stones and try to get under a study table or
a cot to avoid getting hurt by falling objects
Switch off electric connections and gas connections
If in open space avoid going near a tall building, street light lamppost,
chimney, hoardings etc. These may fall upon you.

How does one know whether a location is seismically active or not, and
the nature of the threat?

Why are Earthquakes measured differently by different people?

The intensity of the earthquake is valued according to the Richter Scale

(Charles Francis Richter scale (Charles Francis Richter, 1900-1985) or the
modified Mercalli scale (Giuseppe Mercalli scale (Giuseppe Mercalli, 1850-
1914). The first scale furnishes an evaluation (magnitude) of the quantity of
freed energy, while the seconds scale assigns a degree to the effects on the
environment. Thus although each earthquake has a unique Magnitude, its
effect will vary greatly according to distance, ground conditions,
construction standards and other factors which are expressed in Mercalli
Intensity Scale.

Rating the Intensity of an earthquake’s effects does not require any

instrumental measurements. Thus seismologists can use newspaper accounts,
diaries and other historical records to make intensity ratings of past
earthquakes, for which there are no instrumental recordings. This form of
rating also helps communicate the risks to habitations more clearly.

Such research helps promote our understanding of the earthquake history of

a religion, and estimate future hazards

The basics that need to be kept in mind while designing earthquake-

resistant structures are:
a)To reduce amplitude of seismic vibration acting on the structure.

b)To extend the period of oscillation of a building / structure to control

its response.

For those who came in late, my previous article on earthquake

resistant design philosophy and precautionary measures mentioned
how the earthquake propagates from focal depth to the epicentre of
earth’s crust; how the vibrations take place in a structure and how to
analyse Earthquake resistant structural design.

Before we

2.4 Damping -The ecfect of energy dissipationin reducing the successive

amplitude of vibrationsof a structure displaced from its position of static
equilibrium is called damping and is expressed asa percentage of critical
2.5 Epicentre - The point on the earth’s surface located at the source or
vertically above the source of such seismic waves originating from an
earthquake is known as epicentre and its location is described by its latitude
and longitude.
2.6 Focus - The source propagating seismic waves is called focus of the
earthquake and is also designated as hypocentre. The depth of the source
(focus) below the earth’s surface is referredto as focal depth.
2.7 Intensity of Earthquake - The intensity of an earthquake at a place is a
measure of the degree of shaking caused during the earthquake and thus
charactcrises the erects of the earthquake
a) Ground vibrates (moves) in all directions during earthquakes. The
horizontal components of the ground motion is generally more intense than
that of vertical components during strong earthquakes. However, the Code
emphasizes that in case of structures where stability is a criterion for design,
vertical seismic forces must be considered.

Earthquakes do not kill people, but actually people are killed by the collapse
of badly designed and constructed buildings. But, with the materials
available in our inventory, it is not unfeasible to construct a 100%
earthquake-resistant building.
Simulation of Responses of High-rise Buildings under Earthquakes

To establish comprehensive seismic design method, experimental

information on the collapse behavior of structures is of necessity.
Experimental techniques commonly employed are quasi-static test, in
which a structural model is loaded slowly in accordance with a
specified load history, and shake table test, in which a structural model
is vibrated on a shaking table. In addition, a testing procedure called
the on-line test is a promising alternative. According to this technique,
experimental testing on a structural model is conducted in conjunction
with numerical analyses wherein experimental and numerical
information is exchanged continuously.

The on-line test is now extensively developed. It is used along with

the substructure technique, in which a part of a structure is tested
under real-time loading while the behavior of the other parts of the
structure is simulated through dynamic analysis. An earthquake
response simulation system, which can deal with structures whose
behavior depends strongly on the velocity, is also developed.

Building designed to prevent total collapse, preserve life, and minimize

damage in case of an earthquake or tremor. Earthquakes exert lateral as well
as vertical forces, and a structure's response to their random, often sudden
motions is a complex task that is just beginning to be understood.
Earthquake-resistant structures absorb and dissipate seismically induced
motion through a combination of means: damping decreases the amplitude
of oscillations of a vibrating structure, while ductile materials (e.g., steel)
can withstand considerable inelastic deformation. If a skyscraper has too
flexible a structure, then tremendous swaying in its upper floors can develop
during an earthquake. Care must be taken to provide built-in tolerance for
some structural damage, resist lateral loading through stiffeners (diagonal
sway bracing), and allow areas of the building to move somewhat

Plate tectonics

. These forces of reaction cause physical and chemical changes at their boundaries. Plates
move side to side, up and down, and also interact head on.

Types of seismic waves

Large strain energy released during an

earthquake travels as seismic waves in all
directions through the Earth’s layers,
reflecting and refracting at each interface.
These waves are of two types - body waves
and surface waves; the latter are restricted to
near the Earth’s surface. Body waves consist
of Primary Waves (P-waves) and Secondary
Waves (S-waves), and surface waves consist of
Fig. Arrival of seismic waves at a site
Love waves and Rayleigh waves.
Most earthquakes occur along the edge of the oceanic
and continental plates. The earth's crust (the outer layer
of the planet) is made up of several pieces, called plates.
The plates under the oceans are called oceanic plates and
the rest are continental plates. The plates are moved
around by the motion of a deeper part of the earth (the
mantle) that lies underneath the crust. These plates are
always bumping into each other, pulling away from each
other, or past each other. The plates usually move at
about the same speed that your fingernails grow.
Earthquakes usually occur where two plates are running
into each other or sliding past each other. Fig. The earth crust
Earthquake-Resistant Buildings

The engineers do not attempt to make earthquake-proof buildings that will not get
damaged even during the rare but strong earthquake; such buildings will be too robust
and also too expensive. Instead, the engineering intention is to make buildings
earthquake-resistant; such buildings resist the effects of ground shaking, although they
may get damaged severely but would not collapse during the strong earthquake.

When two blocks of rock or two plates are rubbing against each other, they stick a little.
They don't just slide smoothly; the rocks catch on each other. The rocks are still pushing
against each other, but not moving. After a while, the rocks break because of all the
pressure that's built up. When the rocks break, the earthquake occurs. During the
earthquake and afterward, the plates or blocks of rock start moving, and they continue to
move until they get stuck again.

Seismic codes are unique to a particular region or country. They take into account the
local seismology, accepted level of seismic risk, building typologies, and materials and
methods used in construction. Further, they are indicative of the level of progress a
country has made in the field of earthquake engineering.

The first formal seismic code in India, namely IS 1893, was published in 1962. Today, the
Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has the following seismic codes:

Behaviour of RC buildings

A typical RC building is made of horizontal members (beams and slab) and vertical
members (columns and walls), and supported by foundations that rest on ground. The
system comprising of RC columns and connecting beams is called a RC frame. The RC
frame participates in resisting the earthquake forces. Earthquake shaking generated
inertia forces in the building, which are proportional to the building mass. Since most of
the building mass is present at floor levels, earthquake-induced inertia forces develop at
the floor levels. These forces travel downwards-through slabs and beams to columns and
walls, and then to the foundations where they are dispersed to the ground. As inertia
forces accumulate downwards from the top of the building, the column and walls at lower
storeys experience higher earthquake-induced forces and therefore designed to be
stronger than those in storeys above.

Roles of floor slabs and masonry walls

Floor slabs are horizontal plate-like elements which facilitate functional use of buildings.
Usually, beams and slabs at one storey level are cast together. In residential multi-storey
buildings, thickness of slabs is only about 110-150 mm. When beams bend in the vertical
direction during earthquakes, these thin slabs bend along with them. And, when beam
move with column in the horizontal direction, the slab usually forced the beam to move
together with it. In most buildings, the geometric distortion of the slab is negligible in the
horizontal plane, this behaviour is known as the rigid diaphragm action. Structural
engineers should consider this during design.

After columns and floors in a RC building are cast and the concrete hardens, vertical
spaces between columns and floors are usually filled-in with masonry walls to demarcate
a floor area into functional space (rooms). Normally, these masonry walls, also called in-
fill walls, are not connected to surrounding RC column and beams. When column receive
horizontal forces at floor levels, they try to move in the horizontal direction, but masonry
walls tends to resist this movement. Due to their heavy weight, these walls attract rather
large horizontal forces. However, since masonry is a brittle material, these walls develop
cracks once their ability to carry horizontal load is exceeded. Thus, in fill wall act like
sacrificial fuses in building; they develop cracks under severe ground shaking but help
share the load of the beams and column until cracking. Earthquake performance of in fill
walls is enhanced by mortars of good strength, making proper masonry courses, and
proper packing of gaps between RC frame and masonry in fill walls.

The resistance offered by beams in RC buildings

Beams in RC buildings have two sets of steel reinforcements namely: (a) Long straight
bars (called longitudinal bars) placed along with its length and (b) closed loops of small
diameter steel bars (called stirrups) placed vertically at regular intervals along its full

Beams sustain two types of failures: (a) flexural (or bending) failure and (b) shear failure.
Longitudinal bars are provided to resist flexural cracking on the sides of the beam that
stretches. The Indian ductile detailing code IS: 13920 – 1993 prescribes that
(a) Atleast two bars go through the full length of the beam at the top as well as the
bottom of the beam.
(b) At the ends of beams the amount of steel provided at the bottom is atleast half that
at top.

In moderate to severe seismic zones, the Indian standards IS: 13920 – 1993 prescribes the
following requirements related to stirrups in RC beams.
(a) The diameter of stirrups must be at least 6 mm in beams more than 5 m long, it
must be at least 8 mm.
(b) Both ends of the vertical stirrups should be bent into a 135 º hook and extended
sufficiently beyond this hook to ensure that the stirrup does not open out in an
(c) The spacing of the vertical stirrup in any portion of the beam should be
determined from calculations.
(d) The maximum spacing of stirrups is less than half the depth of the beam.
(e) For a length of twice the depth of the beam, from the face of the column an even
more stringent spacing of stirrups is specified, viz. half the spacing mentioned in

Possible Earthquake Damage Columns, the vertical members in RC buildings, contain

two types of steel reinforcement, namely: (a) long straight bars (called longitudinal bars)
placed vertically along the length, and (b) closed loops of smaller diameter steel bars
(called transverse ties) placed horizontally at regular intervals along its full length.
Columns can sustain two types of damage, namely axial-flexural (or combined
compression- bending) failure and shear failure. Shear damage is brittle and must be
avoided in columns by providing transverse ties at close spacing.

The Indian Ductile Detailing Code IS: 13920-1993 requires columns to be at least
300mm wide. A column width of up to 200mm is allowed if unsupported length is less
than 4m and beam length is less than 5m. Columns that are required to resist earthquake
forces must be designed to prevent shear failure by a skillful selection of reinforcement.

Vertical Bars tied together with Closed Ties Closely spaced horizontal closed ties help in
three ways, namely (i) they carry the horizontal shear forces induced by earthquakes, and
thereby resist diagonal shear cracks, (ii) they hold together the vertical bars and prevent
them from excessively bending outwards (in technical terms, this bending phenomenon is
called buckling), and (iii) they contain the concrete in the column within the closed loops.
The ends of the ties must be bent as 135° hooks. Such hook ends prevent opening of
loops and consequently buckling of concrete and buckling of vertical bars.

The Indian Standard IS: 13920-1993 prescribes following details for earthquake-resistant
(a) Closely spaced ties must be provided at the two ends of the column over a length not
less than larger dimension of the column, one-sixth the column height or 450 mm.
(b) Over the distance specified in item (a) above and below a beam-column junction, the
vertical spacing of ties in columns should not exceed D/4 for where D is the smallest
dimension of the column (e.g., in a rectangular column, D is the length of the small side).
This spacing need not be less than 75 mm nor more than 100 mm. At other locations, ties
are spaced as per calculations but not more than D/2. (c) The length of tie beyond the
135° bends must be at least 10 times diameter of steel bar used to make the closed tie;
this extension beyond the bend should not be less than 75 mm. Construction drawings
with clear details of closed ties are helpful in the effective implementation at construction
site. In columns where the spacing between the corner bars exceeds 300 mm, the Indian
Standard prescribes additional links with 180° hook ends for ties to be effective in
holding the concrete in its place and to prevent the buckling of vertical bars. These links
need to go around both vertical bars and horizontal closed ties (Figure 3); special care is
required to implement this properly at site.

Lapping Vertical Bars In the construction of RC buildings, due to the limitations in

available length of bars and due to constraints in construction, there are numerous
occasions when column bars have to be joined. A simple way of achieving this is by
overlapping the two bars over at least a minimum specified length, called lap length. The
lap length depends on types of reinforcement and concrete. For ordinary situations, it is
about 50 times bar diameter. Further, IS: 13920-1993 prescribes that the lap length be
provided ONLY in the middle half of column and not near its top or bottom ends. Also,
only half the vertical bars in the column are to be lapped at a time in any storey. Further,
when laps are provided, ties must be provided along the length of the lap at a spacing not
more than 150 mm.

Behaviour of short and long columns during earthquake

During past earthquakes, reinforced concrete (RC) frame buildings that have columns of
different heights within one storey, suffered more damage in the shorter columns as
compared to taller columns in the same storey.
Poor behaviour of short columns is due to the fact that in an earthquake, a tall column and
a short column of same cross-section move horizontally by same amount ∆ . However,
the short column is stiffer as compared to the tall column, and it attracts larger earthquake
force. Stiffness of a column means resistance to deformation – the larger is the stiffness,
larger is the force required to deform it. If a short column is not adequately designed for
such a large force, it can suffer significant damage during an earthquake. This behaviour
is called Short Column Effect. The damage in these short columns is often in the form of
X-shaped cracking – this type of damage of columns is due to shear failure.

The Solution

In new buildings, short column effect should be avoided to the extent possible during
architectural design stage itself. When it is not possible to avoid short columns, this effect
must be addressed in structural design. The Indian Standard IS: 13920-1993 for ductile
detailing of RC structures requires special confining reinforcement to be provided over
the full height of columns that are likely to sustain short column effect. The special
confining reinforcement (i.e., closely spaced closed ties) must extend beyond the short
column into the columns vertically above and below by a certain distance as shown in
Figure. In existing buildings with short columns, different retrofit solutions can be
employed to avoid damage in future earthquakes. Where walls of partial height are
present, the simplest solution is to close the openings by building a wall of full height –
this will eliminate the short column effect. If that is not possible, short columns need to
be strengthened using one of the well established retrofit techniques. The retrofit solution
should be designed by a qualified structural engineer with requisite background

Major world earthquakes:

Place of Occurrence Date Magnitude on Richter

San Francisco, CA April 18, 1906 8.3
Skopje, Yugoslavia July 26, 1963 6
Anchorage, Alaska Mar 27, 1964 8.4
Caracus, Venezuala July 29, 1967 6.5
Miyagiken-Oki, Japan June 12, 1978 7.4
Mexico City Sep. 19, 1985 8.1
Erzincan, Turkey Mar 13, 1992 6.9
Kobe, Japan Jan 16,1995 6.9
Istanbul, Turkey Aug. 16, 1999 6.7
Taipei, Taiwan Sep. 21, 1999 7.6
Muzaffarabad, PAK Oct. 8, 2005 7.6

Plate tectonics:

The theory of plate tectonics is a interesting story of continents drifting from place to
place breaking apart, colliding, and grinding against each other When two plates interact
at their boundaries they put forces on each other. Earthquakes also occur in these areas
where new plates are being created and old plates are being subducted into the Earth's
interior. Earthquakes which are due to the interaction of plates are called inter-plate
earthquakes. Intra-plate earthquakes, which occur within the plate.


There are three types of waves that are created when stress is released as energy in
earthquakes: P, S, and surface waves. The P wave, or primary wave, is the fastest of the
three waves and the first detected by seismographs. They are able to move through both
liquid and solid rock. P waves, like sound waves, are compressional waves, which means
that they compress and expand matter as they move through it. S waves, or secondary
waves, are the waves directly following the P waves. As they move, S waves shear, or cut
the rock they travel through sideways at right angles to the direction of motion. S waves
cannot travel through liquid because, while liquid can be compressed, it can't shear. S
waves are the more dangerous type of waves because they are larger than P waves and
produce vertical and horizontal motion in the ground surface. Both P and S waves are
called body-waves because they move within the Earth's interior. Their speeds vary
depending on the density and the elastic properties of the material they pass through, and
they are amplified as they reach the surface. The third type of wave, and the slowest, is
the surface wave. These waves move close to or on the outside surface of the ground.
There are two types of surface waves: Love waves, that move like S waves but only
horizontally, and Rayleigh waves, that move both horizontally and vertically in a vertical
plane pointed in the direction of travel.

Seismic zones of India

India is one of the most disaster prone countries, vulnerable to almost all natural and man
made disasters. About 85% area is vulnerable to one or multiple disasters and about 57%
area is in high seismic zone including the capital of the country.

The characteristics (intensity, duration, etc) of seismic ground vibrations expected at any
location depends upon the magnitude of earthquake, its depth of focus, distance from the
epicenter, characteristics of the path through which the seismic waves travel, and the soil
strata on which the structure stands.

Building Material and Technology Promotion Council (BMTPC) has published a

‘Vulnerability Atlas of India’ which provides district wise information on

Monitoring of Hazards
Hazard Mapping
Disaster Risk Assessment and Mapping
Prediction and Forecasting
Building Guidelines
Retrofitting of Existing unsafe Buildings

The cost of the Atlas is Rs.3000/- and can be obtained by sending a demand draft for
Rs.3000/- plus Rs.200/- as postage to the BMTPC.

Protecting Yourself and Your Property From Earthquakes

If you live in an earthquake-prone area

Learn about its causes and effects.

Keep in handy place a torch and a transistor radio.

Arrange your home in such a way that it is possible to move more easily, keeping
corridors clear of furniture

Anchor desktop computers, appliances and gas cylinders

Anchor tall bookcases and file cabinets

Teach all members of your family how to turn off the electricity and gas cylinder
During an earthquake

Keep calm and keep others calm.

Expect power failure and communication failure

If you are at home or inside a building or auditorium

Do not rush to the doors or exits; never use the lifts; Walk into open calmly.

Protect yourself by staying under the lintel of an inner door, in the corner of a
room, under a table or even under a bed.

If you are in the street

Walk towards an open place, in a calm and composed manner. Do not run.

Keep away from buildings, especially old, tall or detached buildings, electricity
wires, slopes and walls, which are liable to collapse.

If you are driving

Stop the vehicle away from buildings, walls, slopes, electricity wires and cables,
and stay in the vehicle.

After an earthquake

Keep calm, switch on the transistor radio and obey any instructions you hear on
the radio.

Keep away from beaches and low banks of rivers. A huge wave may sweep in.

Expect aftershocks for next few or several days.

Turn off gas cylinder and electricity.

Do not smoke and do not light matches or use a cigarette lighter. Do not turn on
switches. There may be gas leaks or short-circuits.

If there is a fire, try to put it out.

If people are seriously injured, move them very delicately and carefully.

Immediately clean up any inflammable products that may have spilled (alcohol,
paint, etc.)
If you know that people have been buried, tell the rescue teams. Do not rush and
do not worsen the situation of injured persons or your own situation.

Avoid places where there are loose electric wires.

Do not drink water from open containers without having examined it and filter it
using an ordinary clean cloth.

If your home is badly damaged you will have to leave it. Collect water
containers, food, and ordinary and special medicines (for persons with heart
complaints, diabetes, etc.)

Do not re-enter badly damaged buildings and do not go near damaged structures.

Do not walk around the streets to see what has happened. Keep clear of the
streets to enable rescue vehicles to pass.

Traditionally the earthquake resistant form of masonry was based on the construction of
thick, massive walls that relied on their self weight to resist the horizontal loads.
Sometimes walls were plastered to improve their stability against face horizontal loads.
The behaviour of a wall when subject to face loads is illustrated on Figure . From
analyzing the equilibrium of the wall can be shown that the resistance to face load- H is
proportionate to the gravity- G and wall thickness- t and inversely proportionate to the
height-h of the wall. Therefore doubling the wall thickness- t would allow the resistance
of 4 times bigger face load H. However in the event of an earthquake the inertia face
load-H will double due to the increased weight of wall and will lessen the effect of
increased wall thickness. It should be noted that construction of thick walls as an
earthquake resistant feature is not desirable and can be very dangerous due to the
increased amount of rubble in the event of a strong earthquake.

Damping decreases the amplitude of oscillations of a vibrating structure, while ductile

materials (e.g., steel) can withstand considerable inelastic deformation. If a skyscraper
has too flexible a structure, then tremendous swaying in its upper floors can develop
during an earthquake. Care must be taken to provide built-in tolerance for some structural
damage, resist lateral loading through stiffeners (diagonal sway bracing), and allow areas
of the building to move somewhat independently.

Several commercial brands of base isolators are available in the market, and many of
them look like large rubber pads, although there are other types that are based on sliding
of one part of the building relative to the other. A careful study is required to identify the
most suitable type of device for a particular building. Also, base isolation is not suitable
for all buildings. Most suitable candidates for base-isolation are low to medium-rise
buildings rested on hard soil underneath; high-rise buildings or buildings rested on soft
soil are not suitable for base isolation.

Seismological research includes the study of earthquakes caused by human activities,

such as impounding water behind high dams, injecting fluids into deep wells, excavating
mines, and detonating underground nuclear explosions.Studies of artificially induced
quakes suggest that one possible method of controlling natural earthquakes is to inject
fluids into fault zones so as to release strain energy.

During an earthquake the base of the house can vibrate in both directions horizontally i.e.
North-South and East-West as well as vertically. However for sake of simplicity in this
text is assumed that the earthquake acts only in one direction - East-West.

The horizontal inertia loads are created where the weight of the house is concentrated.
These are floor and roof but thick walls can also attract big seismic loads. In order to
resist the earthquake these inertia loads have to reach the foundations without causing
damage to the structure. Masonry walls are the main load resisting elements from the
house structure. Since walls are usually constructed in two orthogonal directions in plan,
some of the walls are parallel to the earthquake while the other cross the earthquake
direction. Only the walls that are parallel to the earthquake can resist the loads. This wall
orientation is referred to as in-plane walls. The cross walls are referred to as out-of-plane
• The sunk portions of WC and bath should be minimum.

. An earthquake-resistant building has four virtues in it, namely:

(a) Good Structural Configuration
(b) Lateral Strength.
(c) Adequate Stiffness
(d) Good Ductility

Inertia Forces in Structures

Earthquake causes shaking of the ground. So a building resting on it will experience

motion at its base. From Newton’s First Law of Motion, even though the base of the
building moves with the ground, the roof has a tendency to stay in its original position.
But since the walls and columns are connected to it, they drag the roof along with them.
This tendency to continue to remain in the previous position is known as inertia. In the
building, since the walls or columns are flexible, the motion of the roof is different from
that of the ground.

More mass means higher inertia force. Therefore, lighter buildings sustain the earthquake
shaking better.
Flow of Inertia Forces to Foundations

Under horizontal shaking of the ground, horizontal inertia forces are generated at level of
the mass of the structure (usually situated at the floor levels). These lateral inertia forces
are transferred by the floor slab to the walls or columns, to the foundations, and finally to
the soil system underneath. So, each of these structural elements (floor slabs, walls,
columns, and foundations) and the connections between them must be designed to safely
transfer these inertia forces through them. Walls or columns are the most critical elements
in transferring the inertia forces.
Concrete is used in buildings along with steel reinforcement bars. This composite
material is called reinforced cement concrete or simply reinforced concrete (RC). The
amount and location of steel in a member should be such that the failure of the member is
by steel reaching its strength in tension before concrete reaches its strength in
compression. This type of failure is ductile failure, and hence is preferred over a failure
where concrete fails first in compression. Therefore, contrary to common thinking,
providing too much steel in RC buildings can be harmful even!!

The extensive loss of life and property caused by earthquakes may be reduced to a
considerable degree by the adoption and implementation of improved design, siting and
construction procedures practicable within the context of the cultural and socio-economic
constraints prevailing in the given regions. When housing, built by traditional methods
and using conventional building materials, does not exhibit the necessary characteristics
of earthquake resistant housing, new designs and non-traditional building materials and
construction techniques need to be developed. However, it will be necessary to ascertain
the user acceptance. Interviews with residents, local builders, construction workers and
architects should provide the necessary data and feedback.

It must be emphasized that carefully conceived buildings with good materials,

workmanship and construction practices have generally been able to withstand the fury of
earthquakes to a large extent.
Earthquake-resistant homes, schools, and workplaces have heavy appliances, furniture,
and other structures fastened down to prevent them from toppling when the building
shakes. Gas and water lines must be specially reinforced with flexible joints to prevent

The system enables researchers to input any one of more than one thousand earthquake
records into the table and simulate vibrations of actual past earthquakes. In addition,
researchers can create their own earthquake as well as test anything beyond existing
recordings on the Richter scale.

Major Indian Earthquakes

Place of Occurrence Date Magnitude

on Richter

Calcutta, Bengal 1737 >6

Kutch, Gujarat June 16, 1819 8

Bihar-Nepal Aug 26, 1833 7.5

Assam Jun 12, 1897 8.7

Great Bihar-Nepal Jun 15, 1934 8.4

Assam Aug 15, 1950 8.7

Koyna, Maharashtra Dec 11, 1967 6.3

Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh Jan 19, 1975 6.8

Assam Aug 6, 1988 7.0

Uttarkashi, Uttranchal Oct. 18, 1991 7.5

Killari, Maharashtra Sep. 30, 1993 6.3

Chamoli, Uttranchal Mar. 29, 1999 6.8

Bhuj, Gujarat Jan. 26, 2001 7.9

J&K, POK Oct. 8, 2005 7.6

A severe earthquake may release energy 10,000 times as great as that of the first atomic
bomb Hiroshima. Rock movements during an earthquake can make rivers change their
course. Earthquakes can trigger landslides that cause great damage and loss of life. Large
earthquakes beneath the ocean can create a series of huge, destructive waves called

Earthquake Safety Tips

BEFORE AN EARTHQUAKE: Have a disaster plan. Choose a safe place in every
room. It’s best to get under a sturdy piece of furniture like a table or a desk where nothing
can fall on you. If you live in an earthquake prone area, bolt tall furniture to the wall and
install strong latches to cupboards. Prepare a disaster supplies kit for your home and car.
Include a first aid kit, canned food and a can opener, bottled water, battery-operated
radio, flashlight, protective clothing and written instructions on how to turn off electricity,
gas, and water.

DURING AN EARTHQUAKE: Stay indoors until the shaking stops. Stay away from
windows. If you’re in bed, hold on and stay there, protecting your head with a pillow. If
you’re outdoors, find a clear spot away from buildings, trees and power lines. Then, drop
to the ground. If you’re in a car, slow down and drive to a safe place. Stay in the car until
the shaking stops.

AFTER THE SHAKING STOPS: Check for injuries. Inspect your home for damage.
Eliminate fire hazards, so turn off the gas if you think its leaking.

Earthquake resistant materials:

The most efficient earthquake-resistant material for low-rise buildings is timber.
However, these buildings should be carefully designed and constructed, provided with
proper lateral bracing and all of their components tied together from the roof down to the

Un-reinforced masonry is very susceptible to damage during earthquake ground

shaking. Solid brick masonry is very heavy and its tensile strength, and therefore its
flexural strength per unit weight for in-plane and out-of-place seismic forces, is very

Old un-reinforced masonry buildings, whose walls are not properly connected to the
floors, roof, and transverse walls (interior and exterior), constitute a threat to the
occupants as well as to people that may be walking in the neighborhood because the
walls start to fall as soon as the building vibrates when subjected to even moderate
ground shaking.
Concrete is a relatively heavy material which, like masonry, has a very small
(practically negligible) tensile, and thus flexural, strength. Therefore, it is usually
reinforced with steel when used in structures. When the concrete is properly reinforced
with steel it can be used effectively in seismic-resistant construction, but it still has
relatively low strength per unit weight when normal weight aggregates are used. The use
of lightweight aggregate concrete offers a significant advantage in seismic regions.

For regions of moderate to high seismic risk it is necessary to reinforce the concrete
structural members carefully: the proper amount and correct detailing of the reinforcing
steel plays an important role in the seismic response of a reinforced concrete structure

Steel is a manufactured material, with usually excellent quality control, that is fabricated
in structural shapes. While its stiffness per unit weight is practically the same as any
other traditional constructional material, its strength and particularly its ductility and
toughness per unit weight are significantly higher than concrete and masonry materials.

Because of its high strength per unit weight, the slenderness of steel structural
members usually exceeds significantly the slenderness of similar structural members
made of other traditional materials. Thus buckling becomes a serious problem, and the
higher the yielding strength of the steel the greater the danger of buckling. Most
structural shapes are formed by plate elements which can undergo local buckling,
particularly when strained in the inelastic range. Therefore, in earthquake-resistant
design, the compactness requirements for the cross section of the critical regions of
structural members are more stringent than for design against normal (standard) loading
condition. Another problem in attaining efficient seismic-resistant construction of steel
structures is in the field-connection of the structural members.

In order to obtain good performance of structures during severe seismic ground shaking it
is necessary to analyze thoroughly the dynamic characteristics of the real three-
dimensional soil-foundation (substructure)-superstructure system. Except for the cases
where base isolation techniques and/or energy dissipation devices are used, the basic rule
for earthquake-resistant design is to achieve integral action of each of the main parts of
the system and between these main parts, that is, the whole substructure and
superstructure should be tied together so that they can work as a unit

The main patterns of earthquake damage include: (a) bulging/separation of walls in the
horizontal direction into two distinct wythes, (b) separation of walls at corners and T-
junctions, (c) separation of poorly constructed roof from walls, and eventual collapse of
roof, and (d) disintegration of walls and eventual collapse of the whole dwelling.

(a) Ensure proper wall construction: The wall thickness should not exceed 450 mm.
Round stone boulders should not be used in the construction! Instead, the stones should
be shaped using chisels and hammers. Use of mud mortar should be avoided in higher
seismic zones. Instead, cement-sand mortar should be 1:6 (or richer) and lime-sand
mortar 1:3 (or richer) should be used.
(b) Ensure proper bond in masonry courses: The masonry walls should be built in
construction lifts not exceeding 600mm. Through-stones (each extending over full
thickness of wall) or a pair of overlapping bond-stones (each extending over at least ¾ths
thickness of wall) must be used at every 600mm along the height and at a maximum
spacing of 1.2m along the length.
(c) Provide horizontal reinforcing elements: The stone masonry dwellings must have
horizontal bands. These bands can be constructed out of wood or reinforced concrete, and
chosen based on economy. It is important to provide at least one band (either lintel band
or roof band) in stone masonry construction.
(d) Control on overall dimensions and heights: The unsupported length of walls
between cross-walls should be limited to 5 m; for longer walls, cross supports raised from
the ground level called buttresses should be provided at spacing not more than 4m. The
height of each storey should not exceed 3.0m. In general, stone masonry buildings should
not be taller than 2 storeys when built in cement mortar, and 1 storey when built in lime
or mud mortar. The wall should have a thickness of at least one-sixth its height.
When wooden bands are used, the cross-section of runners is to be at least 75 mm × 38
mm and of spacers at least 50 mm × 30 mm. When RC bands are used, the minimum
thickness is 75 mm, and at least two bars of 8mm diameter are required, tied across with
steel links of at least 6mm diameter at a spacing of 150 mm centers.