EEFIT Haiti earthquake report published

Published: 08/12/2011

The Earthquake Engineering Field Investigation Team (EEFIT) has now published its report which examines the effects of the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

On 12 January 2010 a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti causing widespread devastation. Up to 230,000 died and more than one million were left homeless.

EEFIT have now compiled a report and provided recommendations based on the findings of their mission to the Port-au-Prince region which took place in April 2010.

The team, led by Edmund Booth and accompanied by Dr Gopal Madabhushi and Dr Keiko Saito from the University of Cambridge, investigated the performance of civil engineering and building structures under seismic loading. The mission also examined disaster management – with particular focus on the use of aerial and satellite imagery as a way of determining earthquake damage.

The main findings of the report include:

  • Damage assessment: remote assessments played a vital role in the Haiti relief effort. However while remote assessments are useful discrepancies were identified when conducting assessments on the ground
  • Damage assessment: an internationally recognised set of damage definitions need to be developed as part of the Global Earthquake Model to conduct assessments more effectively
  • Damage variability: damage clusters across the region of Port-au-Prince were observed – EEFIT notes that some areas were heavily damaged while neighbouring areas with similar terrain sustained much less damage
  • Liquefaction: soil liquefaction in the port area caused extensive damage to the gantry crane facilities and collapse of sections of the north pier and south wharf
  • Landslides: sand quarries are the main source of building materials in Haiti. While landslides observed in the sand quarries caused little damage the mission team observed this as a potential future risk given the close proximity of housing
  • Structural Performance: the mission team recommended further study to examine whether confined masonry buildings can be used as an earthquake resistant construction type – minimum construction standards should also be determined

The Haiti mission differed from previous EEFIT missions in the fact that it focused primarily on the issue of ‘ground truthing’ – the damage assessment obtained from satellite and aerial photos. The Haiti earthquake presented a unique opportunity to assess the use of remote images in determining earthquake damage due its extensive use in planning humanitarian aid.

The mission team assessed 142 buildings making detailed comparison between damage ratings made from field observations and those based on remote images.

The Haiti report is available to download from the EEFIT website page. You can also read the team’s blog.


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