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Published December 2012 | Published
Journal Article Open

Rapid Estimation of Damage to Tall Buildings Using Near Real‐Time Earthquake and Archived Structural Simulations


This article outlines a new approach to rapidly estimate the damage to tall buildings immediately following a large earthquake. The preevent groundwork involves the creation of a database of structural responses to a suite of idealized ground‐motion waveforms. The postevent action involves (1) rapid generation of an earthquake source model, (2) near real‐time simulation of the earthquake using a regional spectral‐element model of the earth and computing synthetic seismograms at tall building sites, and (3) estimation of tall building response (and damage) by determining the best‐fitting idealized waveforms to the synthetically generated ground motion at the site and directly extracting structural response metrics from the database. Here, ground‐velocity waveforms are parameterized using sawtoothlike wave trains with a characteristic period (T), amplitude (peak ground velocity, PGV), and duration (number of cycles, N). The proof‐of‐concept is established using the case study of one tall building model. Nonlinear analyses are performed on the model subjected to the idealized wave trains, with T varying from 0.5 s to 6.0 s, PGV varying from 0.125  m/s, and N varying from 1 to 5. Databases of peak transient and residual interstory drift ratios (IDR), and permanent roof drift are created. We demonstrate the effectiveness of the rapid response approach by applying it to synthetic waveforms from a simulated 1857‐like magnitude 7.9 San Andreas earthquake. The peak IDR, a key measure of structural performance, is predicted well enough for emergency response decision making.

Additional Information

© 2012 by the Seismological Society of America. Manuscript received 9 December 2011. The authors would like to express their deep gratitude to Paul Jennings of the California Institute of Technology and three anonymous reviewers for their thorough review of this work. Their insightful comments have helped refine this article appreciably. This study was funded in part by the U.S. National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program (NEHRP Award Number G09AP00063) and the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSFAward Number EAR-PF 0848080), whose financial support is gratefully acknowledged. The authors would also like to acknowledge the central role of the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC) in advancing earth system science in southern California, directly benefiting many elements of this study.

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