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Stone Houses in Earthquake Areas

  1. Mar 5, 2005 #1
    I heard that it is bad to build a house made of stone on an area that is known for Earthquakes. Is that true? Are stones houses the worst against Earthquakes? That is what I heard, but I somewhat disagree with it.

    Why would houses made of stone be bad for a house? It is heavy and cannot sway as much therefore would be better against Earthquakes, right? It would hug the foundation better than any other house and is stronger, so why would it be bad? Houses made of stone are best for hurricane, tornadoes, ect., so why can't they be best for earthquakes too? Or does it make a difference?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 7, 2005 #2


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    I'm no expert on the subject, although my college and university lectures have touched on the subject occasionally. I believe that when a large force is applied to a building, there are two movements that can occur- It can flex, or it can break. Flexibility allows force to be absorbed (relatively) harmlessly, which is why many bridges nowadays are designed to have moving parts, and sway in the wind, rather than remain unmovable. If no flexing occurs when an earthquake hits a building, it will be much more prone to brittle fracture than one that can move. This is a very simplified picture, and there are a lot more factors that contribute to building stregnth than the material they are constructed from however.
  4. Mar 7, 2005 #3


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    Good reply, matthyaouw.

    Imagine shaking something nice and flexible (a bamboo cane, for instance) compared with shaking something more inflexible, like a long glass rod or something. The glass might have a greater tensile strength, but you only need to picture the two in your head to see the difference.
  5. Mar 7, 2005 #4


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    For a practical example: Iran. Even a moderate earthquake (they had one a few weeks ago) generally kills an enormous amount of people because of the way they build their houses.
  6. Mar 7, 2005 #5


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    It's also not the stones that are the problem, but the mortar between them that cracks and crumbles during the earthquake. :wink:
  7. Mar 15, 2005 #6
    You can even look at the other side. Japan has the best engineering for earthquakes. What do they use? Well, I'm not exactly sure, but I'm pretty sure they don't use any kind of stone, or at least not much of it. Mostly, they probably make their buildings able to bend easier and don't build very many decorative structures.
  8. Mar 15, 2005 #7


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    Yeah, I think you could characterize the bases to be marvels of "springs and dashpots" along with an overall compliant "skeleton".
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