Preliminary assessment of structural performance – RC Buildings

October 8, 2015 by  
Filed under Reinforced Concrete Buildings

Ana Gabriela Haro & Ericson Encina Zuniga

“The difference between being in a earthquake and being in a disaster is the level of preparation – and this begins with Chile’s strict building codes,” said Christophe Schmachtel, a UN humanitarian affairs officer based in Geneva, in an article for the Guardian.

Compared to the 8.8M earthquake in 2010, the 8.3M earthquake did not caused important structural damage on reinforced concrete buildings (RCB). However, two more facts helped to reduce the effects of the recent event:  the affected area is less densely populated and the energy released was a third of the 2010 earthquake, as explained in an article by Pascale Bonnefoy and Patrick J. Lyons for the New York Times.

The most affected areas are Choapa, Illapel, Salamanca, Canela, Los Vilos, and  Coquimbo. All along the region several adobe homes collapsed and some buildings in downtown Illapel met a similar fate, nonetheless it is not clear yet the construction type of those buildings. See here.

Source: Nacional. Tsunami waves triggered by 8.3 M quake. Canela Baja

Source: Nacional. Tsunami waves triggered by 8.3 M quake. Canela Baja.

In Santiago, capital of Chile, minor structural damage on RCB was reported, still significant indoor content fell to the ground as detailed by ARTEMIS.

Additional links with relevant information

Overview of the Chile’s building code history: A brief description of the facts associated with the enforcement of the Chile’s building code and the predominant construction types can be found in the same link of ARTEMIS.

Videos and pictures from media sources in Spanish language: The first two levels of some RCB located in Coquimbo, were affected mainly by the tsunami waves of up to 4.5 meters (15 feet).

  • Video 1. La Herradura Towers and Puerto Edén Condominium. One of the owners describes functioning problems associated with the structure of an elevator duct.
  • Video 2. San Pablo Hospital in Coquimbo. Possible damage detected in joints. Spalling of plaster in walls and stairs.
  • Video 3. Night journey along the coast of Coquimbo days after the earthquake and tsunami.
  • Pic 1. Destroyed URM house.
  • Pic 2. Other construction types affected during the event.


Official reports have not been found until the date of this posting. Therefore, please let us know about your thoughts and feel free to post important updates.


One Response to “Preliminary assessment of structural performance – RC Buildings”

  1. Minor structural damage – RC Buildings : Illapel, Chile Earthquake Clearinghouse on October 15th, 2015 1:59 pm

    […] According to Reuters, the 8.3M earthquake, which hit the Chile’s Northen coast on 16 September 2015, was felt even in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This severe earthquake lasted three minutes and was followed by many aftershocks, however, it did not cause significant structural damage to reinforced concrete buildings (RCB) as previously informed here. […]

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