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Building materials for earthquake-prone areasFeatured science projectScience project video

Abstract

This experiment was conducted to evaluate what building material is suitable for use in earthquake prone areas. The testing was done using timber, bricks and concrete.

Hypothesis

Timber is suitable for use as a building material, in earthquake prone areas.

Scientific Terms

Earthquake, lateral forces

Background

Earthquake and building materials

Common materials used for the construction of houses and buildings are stone, timber, brick and concrete. The choice of materials used in construction may depend on the local weather conditions, material availability, whether the building is located in an earthquake prone zone, and energy efficiency requirements (i.e. to minimize heating or cooling requirements).

Many densely populated cities around the world are now located in earthquake prone areas. The outcome of an earthquake can be very devastating, especially when it occurs in a densely populated city. An earthquake can cause loss of lives, injuries to people, the collapse of buildings, damaged roads and broken pipelines carrying water and flammable/toxic gas.

The use of un-reinforced bricks and concrete as building material in an earthquake prone area is very unwise. Brick and concrete walls are not very strong and will collapse due to the lateral forces during an earthquake. Both bricks and concrete are rigid and brittle, making them crack and break during earthquakes. Wood and steel are more structurally stable during an earthquake. They are both ductile and less likely to collapse during tremors.

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Complexity level:
6
Project cost ($):
50
Time required:
1 hour to prepare, 2 hours for the science project experiment
Material availability:
Easily found - you can try Home Depot, or other hardware stores
Safety concerns:

Use safety gloves and common sense when handling heavy/hard objects.