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September 30, 2011
By Tiffany Moore
This year’s University of Nevada, Reno College of Engineering’s Distinguished Lecture Series presents, “Living on Shaky Ground,” an earthquake awareness symposium to discuss the threat of an earthquake in Nevada. The semester’s first presentation is at 5 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 6, in the Davidson Mathematics and Science Center on campus.
“We’re overdue for a large, damaging earthquake,” Ian Buckle, Center for Civil Engineering Earthquake Research director and University professor, said. “The goal of the lecture is to make people aware of the pending disaster so they can prepare, and so it won’t come as a total surprise.”
This lecture consists of three presentations that discuss the past, present and potential future of earthquake safety in Nevada. Graham Kent, professor and director of the Nevada Seismological Laboratory, talks about the likelihood of an earthquake, discusses the history of earthquakes in Nevada, and what could happen in the near future at Lake Tahoe. A tour of the laboratories is available – a rare opportunity for the public to go behind the scenes at the large-structures lab to see how these massive structures shake.
“Nevadans need to realize they live in earthquake country,” Kent said. “Nevada has the third highest incidence of large earthquakes in the United States. A major earthquake in any community in Nevada, north or south, is possible.”
Ronald Lynn, the director and building official of Clark County Development Services Department in Las Vegas, will discuss the current standards for making buildings earthquake-safe. He will explain, in relation to the large population and large number of schools, hotels, offices and other buildings in Las Vegas, how earthquake standards are created.
Buckle provides an overview of Lynn’s discussion.
“The current building regulations are set in place to ensure that people can escape safely,” Buckle said. “But they have limits. The buildings may be so heavily damaged that people will be out of work, businesses will lose income, and students may have to find another school.”
Buckle gives the final presentation, discussing current research on campus about how to protect the people and buildings in the event of an earthquake.
“Our role is to go beyond saving lives and also protect the use of the building,” he said. “So people can return to their normal lives in the same buildings directly after a major earthquake hits.”
A question and answer session will be available at the end of the presentations.
“People should come to be made aware of the hazards and to learn what to expect in an earthquake,” Buckle said. “They may be safe, but lives will be disrupted because buildings will be heavily damaged –we all need to plan ahead to help preserve the buildings in order to minimize the disruption of everyday lives.”
Tiffany Moore is a student writer for University Media Relations.