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College of Engineering & Science

Earthquake Research

Research at Detroit Mercy focuses on design for seismic (earthquake) loadings for structures located around the world.  Many people around the world don’t have adequate material resources or knowledge about how to design safe buildings.

One consequence is that a very high number of people are killed in developing countries.  In 2010, Haiti had a 7.0 Earthquake that killed more than 100,000 people according to the USGS.  Detroit Mercy responded to this immediate need by sending a team of professionals to Haiti to assess damage to schools. (Read more)

Detroit Mercy research focuses on developing materials and methods that will prevent tragedies like this.  People in developing countries often can’t afford to construct building that will withstand seismic loads.  Then once the buildings have been made, there is little that can be done to make them more durable.  We are working on solutions to this. (Read more)

Are earthquakes an issue for Detroit?  The public has not had much concern for earthquakes in Detroit, but professional engineers have considered their potential impact.  Building codes for Michigan require attention to the possibility of earthquakes.  These are based on historical records for the last couple hundred years which say there is a potential for some seismic motion.  This is most likely caused by feeling effects from earthquakes in other parts of the country.  Even with that, many brick and concrete block buildings in Detroit would likely damaged by small earthquakes.  Additionally, the earth is always changing.  It is possible that we could have a return to pre-historic times when large earthquakes were more common in Michigan.  Therefore, it is good to be prepared.

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