Research Topics

This page is reserved for suggested research topics to guide and inform reconnaissance field teams.

EERI Nepal Reconnaissance Team Strategic Objectives – May 31–June 7, 2015

  1. Evaluate effectiveness of past mitigation and preparedness efforts in a region with well-known very high seismic risk. Focus areas:
    • Hospital retrofits and preparedness
    • School retrofits
    • Nonstructural hazard mitigation efforts
    • Use GHI/NSET previous work
    • Emergency Shelters and interim housing
  2. Investigate lessons from emergency response and building management practices. Focus areas:
    • Aid distribution, airport restrictions/customs limits, temporary shelter effectiveness, emergency plan effectiveness
    • Mental health issues
    • Search and rescue and post-earthquake safety evaluation
    • Movement of aftershocks toward metropolitan regions
  3. Investigate impacts on lifelines and communications systems including restoration times, actual and expected
    • Interdependencies and work-arounds
    • Remote areas vs. Kathmandu Valley
    • Coordinate with ASCE Infrastructure Resilience Division
  4. Investigate recovery and resilience related issues
    • Evaluate framework developed by EERI Resilience Observatory for documenting and measuring resilience
    • Investigate impacts and response on remote regions—what features make them more or less resilient?
    • Include cultural context issues
    • Plan for follow-up visit by resilience team
  5. Improve understanding of damage to regional building types
    • Organize a compilation of damage photos by building type, by mechanism, and by severity.  Attempt to identify average damage to “building clusters” not the isolated extreme cases. Define damage in items of both safety and usability.
    • Track damage away from high intensity locations to see where damage starts to die out in different building types to identify intensity level where performance of vulnerable buildings is satisfactory.
    • Attempt to correlate damage severity with ground shaking.
  6. Evaluate impacts on World Heritage sites
    • What was pre-earthquake condition and repair/retrofit status?
    • What was damaged in past events?
    • What happened in 2015 and why?
  7. Investigate landslide and avalanche impacts
    • How do you tag buildings for landslide risks?
  8. Investigation casualty causes (epidemiology)
    •  What were the failure modes that led to casualties?
    •  What were the rates of casualties in different buildings?
    •  What kinds of injuries were sustained in different buildings?
    •  What protective actions helped people avoid injuries?
  9. Summarize key ground motion features and their significance
    • 25 April 2015 main shock
    • 12 May 2015 aftershock
    • Tectonic environment
    • Aftershock distribution
    • Strong motion recordings
    • Long period motion in Kathmandu Valley
    • Comparison of spectra with codes in Nepal and expectations

Suggest Research Topics

To submit a research topic to add to this page, email with the following:

  1. Research topic description no longer than 250 words.
  2. Note if you want your name listed alongside the topic description.
  3. Note if you would like your email address listed alongside the topic description

Suggested Topics

  • Evaluating Damage through Remote Sensing
    Submitted by: Anna Lang

      It would be great to hear of any uses of remote sensing to assess damage, particularly for gauging the conditions of isolated villages. Remote sensing could include manned or unmanned aerial systems (ie, drones). Further, who is utilizing this technology (ie, government or relief agencies) and how quickly was it implemented?
  • Vulnerability of URMs in Nepal, impact and implications for risk mitigation
    Submitted by: Andrew O’Donnell,

      I believe that the damage caused by the recent earthquake in Nepal, while horrific, provides an opportunity to research the behavior of unreinforced masonry buildings in Nepal. With a relatively recent uptick in urbanization in Kathmandu, the need for housing has caused a boom in unreinforced masonry construction. Within the engineering community it is widely known that unreinforced masonry buildings are highly susceptible to damage from earthquakes. Thankfully, through retrofit ordinances (such as Bolts Plus) in highly seismic municipalities like San Francisco and Seattle, the URMs that are at greatest risk have undergone some form of mitigation or strengthening. However, as was recently discussed at the EERI Annual Meeting in Boston, URMs pose a threat to many cities in the United States that are considered to be exposed to low/moderate levels of seismicity such as Memphis, Charleston, and Boston. The April 25, 2015 Nepal earthquake provides a unique and important opportunity for engineers to learn as much as we can from this earthquake so we can both increase the awareness of the vulnerability that unreinforced masonry buildings pose as well as better inform our mitigation strategies in an effort to prevent similar widespread damage from unreinforced masonry buildings in the future.
  • Hospitals’ performance in Kathmandu
    Submitted by: George C. Yao, Prof.

      I read it on the news that there were 3 hospitals went through seismic evaluation on their structural and non-structural components about 2 years ago. They are: Paropakar Maternity and Women’s Hospital (popularly known as PRASUTI GRIHA), National Academy of Medical Sciences (Bir Hospital), and Kanti Children’s Hospital. I am not sure if the retrofit went all the way to final construction stage but it seems that they were operating after the earthquake last weekend. It is suggested that a visit to these hospitals will benefit our earthquake experience.
  • Performance of Confined Masonry Buildings
    Submitted by: Larry Stevig

      If any confined masonry buildings existed in Nepal or surrounding areas affected by the ground shaking, it would be useful to observe and document their performance in this event. Especially for housing, but for any building constructed as confined masonry, learnings from Nepal would be useful for implementation of improvements (or confirmation of its efficacy) wherever this construction technique is used in developing countries. While not related to my research work at State Farm, I am interested in getting the best information to individuals and organizations that assist with constructing housing for the poor throughout the world, especially the populations in areas vulnerable to earthquakes
  • Unified Performance-Based Design
    Submitted by: Satyabrata Choudhury

        I suggest to explore the recently reported Unified Performance-Based Design (UPBD) method for design for RC frame buildings (Choudhury and Singh, 2013). This UPBD method can simultaneously satisfy building drift and performance level.
        Following target performance objectives combination can be adopted:
        IO with 1% drift: These are Operational Level Buildings. Suggested for all hospital buildings world over.
        LS with 2% drift: For buildings of intermediate importance.
        CP with 3% drift: For buildings of lower importance. (Drifts here are nonlinear drifts).
        Hazard level:
        In high seismic zone design needs to be done for maximum earthquake (ME) (through PBD). ndian Code (IS 1893-2002) capes the ME to 0.36g level, which seems to underestimate the ME level. EC-8 does not restrict hazard level. In UPBD method, it is possible to design for any hazard level.
        Following pin-pointed research topics suggested:
        (1) Validating efficacy of UPBD method through scaled building model testing in shake table (possible in sophisticated Labs). [The method has been validated in computer model].
        (2) Exploring Design for Extreme Earthquakes (up to 1g level) using UPBD and other
        PBD methods.
      For lower performance (LS, CP), such buildings may be within the reach of common people. Survival buildings with a little more cost may be accepted.
  • Research on Social Issues
    Submitted by: Sahar Derakhshan
    1. Measuring the success of NRRC, especially in retrofitting schools.
    2. Practicality of promoting safe vernacular building in rural areas (based on the ones that survived the earthquake).
    3. Assessing the role of spiritual leaders and influential figures in promoting safety.
    4. Evaluating the political effect of earthquake on the new government in Nepal, to use it as an opportunity to enforce codes.