Your house is not along the faultline. What now?

A friend linked to this blog article:
Obviously, the author has good intentions, although he is seemingly not an engineer (or maybe still a young engineer?). The impression I'm getting though is that the article is suggesting to check whether your house/property is along one of the published faultlines. If it is, you're obviously in danger. But it might also give the impression that if you are a good distance away, you probably shouldn't worry.

It’s good to inform people but it’s not so good to inform them of only half the truth. The whole truth is, it doesn’t matter if you are living along a faultline or not*. The truth is, whether your home or place of work is within 5 meters or within 50 km (or even father) from the faultlines, i.e. if you are living in the Philippines (other than in Palawan), and they were not properly engineered to the latest standard** — either you didn’t get an engineer to design it properly, or you got an engineer but he didn’t design it properly, or you got an engineer and did his job but the contractor or architect insisted on other things — your life and property are at risk.

I visited Tacloban recently and this is the same thing I saw in typhoon-preparedness. People don't hire engineers for their homes. Or they do, but they don't do their job properly (e.g. they might be thinking wind is not as strong as earthquake shaking therefore it doesn't need to be considered). Or they want to, but engineers are... expensive? (Aren't lives and property that important?) Anyways, I saw people already rebuilt their homes -- which is good -- but they rebuilt them only the exact same way they built it before Yolanda. No engineering. No nothing. From an economic standpoint, obviously it's the best option, but it's more complicated than you think. For example, I always tell my students, if you built your home "wind-proof" but your neighbours didn't, and their roof crashed into yours during a windstorm -- and nobody designs for roofs crashing on roofs, it's too costly -- then it almost didn't matter that you exerted effort to "wind-proof" your home. So people would just resign to a less wind-proof home and just suffer the losses. Et cetera, et cetera. It's very, very complicated.

But I see that there are two solutions to all this (that I hope to expand on on a future blog article): education and then engineering. The education, as I suggested here, shouldn't be partial. It shouldn't be a "You should be afraid of X (therefore you should do Y)" type of education such as the blog article I linked to, but rather a "There is X, and you have A, B, and C options" one. Once the education goal is achieved, engineering can proceed. This goes for everyone -- including engineers. Engineers should constantly educate themselves, and seek the whole story, not just be satisfied with whatever they read because it may not be relevant anymore, or that it is only part of a much larger context.

Yes, it is very complicated. But the simple point is this: to get proper engineering, step one is proper education.

* As the Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study (MMEIRS) suggests. See also, from the same blog but on a different article: http://tulisanes.wordpress.com/2013/10/17/mmeirs-scenario-8-magnitude-7-2-earthquake-along-the-west-valley-fault-system-by-jane-t-punongbayan-ph-d-4/
** If your building/house/structure was designed and built after 2001, when the latest modern structural code that accounts for these faultlines was published, higher chance you will be safe if you hired an engineer and he did his job. Note also that many people die because of non-structural falling hazards such as heavy furnitures, ceilings, broken glass, etc. You don’t need to be along a faultline to experience those.

NOTE: Updated on 15 Jan. 2014 to reflect the new web address of the blog I was referring to. (It was previously on tulisanes1860.wordpress.com; it is now on tulisanes.wordpress.com.)


Stu StuvWx said...

hi! my monicker is tulisanes, the author of the image above. you were right: i am not an engineer. i just have my good intentions. since i read and replied to your comment in my blog, i have learned a lot --along the line of what you're saying regarding following the building code, getting an engineer and the like.

please note that my blog has changed address. please update your link to:


since you visited, i have added a lot of maps and more on their way in the coming days with satellite maps of THE SOUTH.

i may be using some of the things i've learned here. the message in the attachment is the one i am currently using. maybe you can suggest on how to improve it (in very few words please) --all in the name of public service and our good intentions ;)


ronjiedotcom said...

Thanks for commenting and for the update. The text in your graphic looks fine.

Stu StuvWx said...

oh good! every once in a while, pls. check my blog as i am determined to complete the entire length of the west and east valley faults showing what places and who the people that are at risk. pls. inject any info you may find relevant and helpful, specially for people who are desperately looking for answers. again, thanks~!