Quake pro­tec­tion

Avon Valley Gazette - - NEWS - Lynn Gri­er­son

GEO­SCIENCE Aus­tralia is sur­vey­ing build­ings in York in a bid to re­duce the town’s vul­ner­a­bil­ity to an earth­quake by retrofitting its na­tional her­itage trea­sures.

York is in one of the most seis­mi­cally- ac­tive ar­eas of Aus­tralia.

The York Town Hall, built in 1911, is among the her­itage- listed build­ings at risk of oblit­er­a­tion in an earth­quake.

Just 43km away, an earth­quake mea­sur­ing 6.9 on the Richter mag­ni­tude scale de­stroyed the town of Meck­er­ing in 1968.

York is the first town site in the coun­try se­lected for the earth­quake mit­i­ga­tion study.

Geo­science Aus­tralia struc­tur- al en­gi­neer Mark Ed­wards said the team be­gan tak­ing pho­to­graphs of build­ings in Avon Ter­race on Mon­day, us­ing ve­hi­cle-mounted dig­i­tal cam­eras to record the ar­chi­tec­tural fea­tures of the build­ings.

The vis­ual record will fo­cus on the num­ber of storeys, chim­neys, para­pets and pri­mary con­struc­tion ma­te­ri­als.

Mr Ed­wards said the team was us­ing tech­nol­ogy to ‘ vir­tu­ally ap­ply’ var­i­ous retrofits to York his­tor­i­cal build­ings to un­der­stand what mod­i­fi­ca­tions were most ef­fec­tive in re­duc­ing the dam­age from a large earth­quake.

“The haz­ard has been ig­nored un­til quite re­cently… and we can’t fore­cast an earth­quake,” he said.

Mr Ed­wards said earth­quake haz­ard was only fully recog­nised for Aus­tralian build­ing de­sign in the early ‘ 90s after the New­cas­tle earth­quake in 1989.

He said knowl­edge of the most ef­fec­tive retro­fit mea­sures for older ma­sonry build­ings would strengthen build­ings and re­sult in more re­silient com­mu­ni­ties.

“The re­search will not only ben­e­fit the Shire of York but also other small Aus­tralian towns with sim­i­lar struc­tures, such as Northam and Toodyay,” he said.

Seis­mic ac­tiv­ity is mon­i­tored across the coun­try and a seis­mic ac­tiv­ity sta­tion is based at Mun­dar­ing Weir.

Mr Ed­wards said York was at mod­er­ate risk of an earth­quake.

A mag­ni­tude scale 4 earth­quake would alert emer­gency ser­vices. Mr Ed­wards said if there was an earth­quake, peo­ple should take cover un­der a ta­ble and hold on to it.

From page 1 “Do not run out of a build­ing where there is risk of fall­ing ma­sonry and do not stand in a door­way; stay put un­til the shak­ing stops,” he said.

Geo­science Aus­tralia is col­lab­o­rat­ing with the Shire of York, the WA Depart­ment of Fire and Emer­gency Ser­vices and the Univer­sity of Ade­laide on the project.

Other as­pects of the project in­volve a sur­vey of com­mu­nity busi­nesses in York to as­sess the po­ten­tial eco­nomic dis­rup­tion likely to re­sult from a large earth­quake, an as­sess­ment of the losses and the ben­e­fits of a staged mit­i­ga­tion.

An­other aim is to de­velop sce­nar­ios to help the Depart­ment of Fire and Emer­gency Ser­vices and the Shire of York with emer­gency man­age­ment plan­ning.

The project forms part of a Bush­fire and Nat­u­ral Haz­ards Col­lab­o­ra­tive Re­search Cen­tre project.

Work on the project will con­tinue in March and April, with small teams from Geo­science Aus­tralia and the Univer­sity of Ade­laide gath­er­ing in­for­ma­tion on York’s older ma­sonry build­ings us­ing hand- held com­put­ers, dig­i­tal cam­eras and the ve­hi­cle mounted cam­era sys­tem.

A re­port will be pro­vided to York coun­cil later this year.

York Town Hall is among the build­ings at risk.

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