Institute recommends carrying out seismic microzonation of urban areas and following earthquake resistant designs
A massive earthquake of 6.4 magnitude struck Assam, near the Sonitpur area, on the evening of April 28. Two aftershocks jolted the State, tremors were felt in West Bengal, across the northeast, Tibet, Bangladesh and Bhutan. It resulted in the collapse of a free-standing rocky hill in Bhirabkund.
After studying the seismic activity in the region, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati has called for disaster preparedness, fearing more seismic activity in the region.
The institute has also recommended the carrying out of seismic microzonation of urban areas and strictly following earthquake resistant designs in these areas.
T. G. Sitharam, director of IIT Guwahati and president of the Indian Society for Earthquake Technology, and his research group has done extensive work in the northeast related to seismic hazard assessment and liquefaction of soils. “Liquefaction is one of the major effects of earthquakes, where saturated sand and silt behaves like a liquid, resulting in loss of soil strength. A major part of Assam lies in the Brahmaputra river valley and other parts are bounded by the North East Himalayan region, where the seismic activity is very high,” Sitharam said.
“Our studies on Assam sand have indicated that the shear moduli and damping properties of soils are strongly affected by the magnitude of shear strain amplitude and it was evident from past studies that areas in Assam in Brahmaputra valley possess lower cyclic strength of in-situ sands for a given number of cycles for initial liquefaction,” he added.
Furthermore, geotechnical studies concluded that relative densities of these soils do not significantly affect the damping ratios. “Assam has many oil refineries, industries, and advanced infrastructural facilities. Hence, the areas that come under zone 5, the seismic risk in the present day situation is very high, and the degree of damage due to both primary and secondary effects with multiple hazards taking place simultaneously, would be very high,” he explained.
Based on the advice of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during the 22nd convocation of IIT Guwahati in September 2020, IIT Guwahati has started a Centre for Disaster Management and Research (CDMR) which will begin Master’s and PhD programmes from July 2021 and will provide trained human resources for future preparedness.
Communities need to be prepared with preparedness and disaster management at all levels, feels IIT Guwahati experts. “Considering such perpetual disasters this region has faced, our centre would work in purely multidisciplinary manner and faculty from various disciplines working on disaster management related fields will contribute through research, innovation, consultancy, capacity building and advocacy, by assimilating the recent developments in both climate change and disaster management fields,” the director concluded. To know more about CDMR click here.
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