The ground is constantly moving in Southern California. Almost every day there are small shifts of the rock beneath the surface that would go unnoticed except for the dutiful recordings of seismic equipment throughout the region. When the rocks bump against each other, they can crack, break and slip, which causes a release of energy. The motion (slipping) continues until the rock gets stuck.
The term earthquake is used to describe these seismic events, both large and small. The earthquake’s “focus” is the location underground where the slip occurs, and the epicenter is the above ground position of the quake. A slip can release enough force to cause damage to buildings, roads, bridges and other structures surrounding the earthquake’s epicenter. Sometimes the energy released by a quake can be felt hundreds of miles away from the epicenter. As an example, a recent 3.3 magnitude earthquake that occurred near Clinton, Montana, was felt in Great Falls, Montana, which is 200 miles northeast of Clinton.
An earthquake can occur at many different depths below the surface. The closer it is to the surface, the more damage it will cause to man-made structures. Earthquakes typically take place on fault lines, which is where two large plates of rock rub against each other. For years seismologists have been predicting that residents in the Los Angeles area will be hit by a large quake with a magnitude of 6.7 or greater. A major earthquake can uproot trees, collapse buildings, bridges and parking structures, and buckle roads.
Earthquake Retrofitting: Soft Story Los Angeles
Earthquake preparation is important, and can help prevent injuries and property damage. Securing appliances with bolts can minimize movement and stop gas lines from breaking. Hanging objects such as light fixtures, mirrors and pictures should also be secured, as well as large pieces of furniture that can fall over if the ground shakes. Put latches on cabinets to prevent the contents from falling out and make sure to properly store any hazardous material.
You will also want to inspect your house for foundation problems. Look for cracks, bowed walls, slopping floors and other indicators of foundation issues. Call in a professional foundation repair expert if necessary, and make any needed repairs. You can also increase your home’s stability with bolts and braces. During an earthquake, a home can shift off of its foundation. Bolting will strengthen the connection between a structure and the foundation that it is built on. Braces can be installed to prevent the collapse of cripple walls. A cripple wall is the short wall between a foundation and a home’s first floor, and is often the weakest part of the structure.
A foundation specialist can provide you with all of the information you will need regarding earthquake retrofitting and how to improve the structural integrity of your home. Take action now to safeguard your property and family. It will give you peace of mind knowing that when the ground shakes again, you’re prepared.