Are Buildings in SF on Rollers? Base Isolation in San Francisco

For California, another large earthquake is inevitable. In 1906, a magnitude 7.9 earthquake struck San Francisco and destroyed 28,000 structures, over 80% of the city’s buildings at the time. The magnitude 6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989 is estimated to have caused anywhere from $6-10 billion in property damages around the Bay Area. But these days there’s technology to help buildings resist earthquakes. One the most robust ways for a building to resist earthquake damage is base isolation. As a follow-up to the detailed New York Times article about base isolation, we take a deep dive into base isolation in San Francisco.

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1906 San Francisco Earthquake: Lessons from History

The 1906 San Francisco earthquake destroyed 28,000 buildings. It left over half the population homeless and claimed the lives of 3,000 people. What did we learn from the earthquake, and what changes did we implement after the earthquake? Have we done enough to prepare for the next big earthquake? In this article, we review discoveries related to geology, earthquake-induced fires, building performance, and the recovery process.

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