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Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research: A Community Workshop Report (2011)

Chapter: 2 Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research

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Suggested Citation:"2 Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research." National Research Council. 2011. Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research: A Community Workshop Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13167.
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2


Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research

A fundamental goal of the workshop was to describe the high-priority grand challenges in earthquake engineering research, which are represented by the problems, barriers, and bottlenecks in the earthquake engineering field that hinder realization of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) vision. Thirteen grand challenge problems emerged over the course of the workshop. The committee has summarized them in terms of five overarching Grand Challenges to capture interrelationships and crossovers among the 13 problems and to highlight the interdisciplinary nature of their potential solutions. Participants noted that grand challenge problems do not stand alone; they are complex, and this complexity exists not only within earthquake engineering but also in earthquake engineering’s position among other competing social challenges. As such, addressing a grand challenge problem involves consideration of a variety of barriers—economic, regulatory, policy, societal, and professional—along with the scientific and technological solutions. The five overarching Grand Challenges are intended to serve as useful focal points for discussions among stakeholders and decision makers planning future investment.

Table 2.1 shows the grouping of the 13 problems into the five overarching Grand Challenges, and it also maps each grand challenge problem to the disciplinary breakout group from which it originated. These Grand Challenges are:

1. Community Resilience Framework: A common theme noted by workshop participants was that the earthquake engineering community currently lacks an interactive and comprehensive framework for measuring, monitoring, and evaluating community resilience. Such a framework could apply innovative methodologies, models, and data to measure community performance at various scales, build on the experience and lessons of past events, and ensure that past and future advances in building, lifelines, urban design, technology, and socioeconomic research result in improved community resilience. Such a framework also could advance understanding of both the direct and indirect impacts of earthquakes so that community-level interactions and impacts can be better characterized.

2. Decision Making: Another sentiment reiterated during the workshop was that current research findings related to community resilience do not adequately influence decisions and actions on the part of key decision makers, such as private-sector facility owners and public-sector institutions. Communities typically build based on traditional standards, and when affected by major earthquakes, they respond and recover based on intuition, improvisation, and adaptive behaviors that are drawn from the individuals available to participate. Consequently, the lessons learned in one community and event rarely translate to the next community affected. Participants suggested that achieving earthquake resilience could involve a community-based, holistic approach that includes decisions and actions that are based on overarching goals, a clear understanding of the built environment, rapid and informed assessment data, and planned reconstruction and recovery. Mechanisms for motivating action could include developing incentives to promote community development and pre-event planning; simulation-based decision-making strategies for use in community development, pre-event planning, early response post event, and through the long-term recovery process; state-of-the-art decision-making tools that will lead to more efficient resource allocations; and methodologies and tools that allow decision makers to compare different strategies for post-earthquake reconstruction and long-term pre-earthquake mitigation.

3. Simulation: Participants noted that knowledge of the inventory of infrastructure components and points

Suggested Citation:"2 Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research." National Research Council. 2011. Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research: A Community Workshop Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13167.
×

TABLE 2.1 Grouping of 13 Grand Challenge Problems into the Five Overarching Grand Challenges.

Dimension (Breakout Group) Grand Challenge Problem OVERARCHING GRAND CHALLENGES
Community
Resilience
Framework
Decision
Making
Simulation Mitigation Design Tools
Community Resilience

1.   Framework for Measuring, Monitoring, and Evaluating Community Resilience

2.   Motivating Action to Enhance Community Resilience

Pre-event Prediction and Planning

3.   Develop a National Built Environment Inventory

4.   Multi-Scale Seismic Simulation of the Built Environment

5.   Integrated Seismic Decision Support

6.   Risk Assessment and Mitigation of Vulnerable Infrastructure

7.   Protect Coastal Communities

Design of Infrastructure

8.   Regional Disaster Simulator

9.   High Fidelity Simulation

10. New Sustainable Materials and Systems for Earthquake Resilience

11. Harnessing the Power of Performance Based Earthquake Engineering (PBEE) to Achieve Resilient Communities

Post-event Response and Recovery

12. Rapid Post-Earthquake Assessment Reconstruction and Recovery

NOTE: The dimension column on the left maps each grand challenge problem to the breakout group from which it originated; note that the grand challenge problems do not represent consensus views of the breakout groups, but rather suggestions by individuals or groups of individuals during the breakout group discussions (see Appendix A).

    of connection between different infrastructure types is lacking within the earthquake engineering community. They identified a need for scalable tools that autonomously create an accurate database of all infrastructure components, including points of interdependency with other infrastructure components. Empowered with this complete mapping of an urban center’s infrastructure systems, powerful simulation technologies could model the time and spatial impacts of a seismic event at all length scales spanning from the component scale to the regional scale, and from disaster response to community recovery.

4. Mitigation: A large earthquake or tsunami in a highly populated region of the United States would cause massive damage to the built environment and communities in the region, and the resulting social and economic consequences would cascade across the country, particularly if major energy, transportation, or supply hubs are affected. Key characteristics of this Grand Challenge include developing strategies to measure, monitor, and model community vulnerability, motivations, and mitigation strategies, and establishing mitigation solutions for the community’s most vulnerable sectors. Participants suggested that mitigation solutions could be based on the use of a new generation of simulation tools and design solutions coupled with up-to-date information available from distributed sensing systems. Development of better approaches for renewal and retrofit of the built environment’s most vulnerable sectors would help ensure a safer environment and a more resilient community.

5. Design Tools: Participants suggested that developing and exploiting new emerging materials and innovative structural concepts and integrating them within design tools could dramatically improve the performance of all types of infrastructure and increase earthquake resilience in ways that are also sustainable. There is a wide range of sustainable highly resilient, new materials that can offer opportunities to significantly change the way infrastructure is designed and constructed. Harnessing the power of

Suggested Citation:"2 Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research." National Research Council. 2011. Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research: A Community Workshop Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13167.
×

    performance-based earthquake engineering (PBEE) could achieve a resilient infrastructure that incorporates these innovative new materials and structural systems.

The five overarching Grand Challenges are summarized in the sections that follow. Characteristics of each Grand Challenge are given, along with transformative approaches to solving the grand challenge problems and the potential resulting impacts. Appendix A contains the original descriptions of the 13 grand challenge problems from the breakout sessions.

COMMUNITY RESILIENCE FRAMEWORK

Description of the Problem

Participants noted that although research has yielded numerous findings related to community resilience, many of these findings do not influence decisions or actions by key decision makers including private-sector facility owners and public-sector institutions.1 Characterizing the interactions and impacts at a community level necessitates an understanding of both the direct and indirect impacts of earthquakes, and a framework for measuring, monitoring, and evaluating community resilience could help ensure that past and future advances in building, lifelines, urban design, technology, and socioeconomic research result in improved community resilience. Such a framework could apply innovative methodologies, models, and data to measure community performance at various scales—e.g., building, lifeline, and community—and build on the experience and lessons of past events. Participants reiterated that such an interactive and comprehensive framework is lacking within the earthquake engineering community. In addition, many participants noted a need for basic research on the different mechanisms for motivating action. This includes information that stakeholders may use to quantify the costs and benefits of various mitigation strategies and the incentives for action that are meaningful to various constituencies, ranging from laws and regulations to informally applied norms.

Characteristics of the Grand Challenge

Because resilience is multi-dimensional and multi-scale, achieving resilience requires a multi-disciplinary approach. The earthquake engineering research community is, for example, unable at this time to define and measure multiple dimensions of resilience. Workshop participants discussed the need for a characterization of resiliency in terms of scale and metrics that are both applicable for diverse systems and for their interdependencies. Because researchers do not have standard methods or measures for resiliency, it is difficult to determine when resiliency has been achieved. This is because current engineering approaches are limited in their ability to characterize resilience outcomes or to characterize them in ways that are meaningful for end users.

Transformative Approaches to the Solution

Many workshop participants emphasized that characterizing community resilience will require a significant shift in how the performance of communities is quantified. For example, existing research programs in earthquake engineering mainly focus on the performance of individual components or systems (e.g., buildings and specific lifeline systems), whereas understanding the performance of a community requires an understanding of the interactions among all of these components. Many questions still exist, including: how does the performance of an electric power system affect the performance of other lifeline systems? How does the disruption of power affect local and regional businesses? How does an industry in an affected region impact other industries that may not have been directly impacted by damage? Multi-scale modeling of resilience could effectively relate these diverse interactions.

Another issue that has impeded the ability to measure and understand community resilience is the lack of historical data on recovery of communities from past disasters. Participants discussed the potential for a national observatory network to address the disaster vulnerability and resilience of communities using methodologies applied consistently over time and space, with attention to complex interactions between changes in social systems, the built environment, and the natural environment. They cited a 2008 workshop sponsored by the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Science Foundation that discussed the structure of such a network, called the Resiliency and Vulnerability Observatory Network (Peacock et al., 2008). Output from this network could help foster many research projects on community resilience including:

  • Developing and testing community resiliency metrics at different scales (e.g., communities, regions) and for different community components (e.g., buildings, lifelines, social networks, economy).
  • Researching, developing, and testing various methods for quantifying resilience and determining the best method for stakeholder decision making.
  • Creating a resilience observation pilot study, which could be a candidate city, neighborhood, or group of buildings (see “Instrumented City”), setting a baseline, and observing actions/changes over time to define metrics and timeframes of resiliency dynamics.
  • Encouraging the development of quantitative recovery models and developing theoretically and empirically based models of post-earthquake recovery

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1 See the white paper in Appendix B by Laurie Johnson, the keynote speaker on community resilience: “Transformative Earthquake Engineering Research and Solutions for Achieving Earthquake-Resilient Communities.”

Suggested Citation:"2 Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research." National Research Council. 2011. Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research: A Community Workshop Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13167.
×

      processes. For example, participants noted that models could be integrated across dimensions of recovery—infrastructures, housing, business/ commercial facilities, public institutions, social/ economic processes—and incorporated into simulation models that forecast recovery rates and patterns after major earthquakes. These models could be designed to consider resilience, adaptation, sustainability, and mitigation.

•    Developing multi-scale simulation models that link the performance of buildings and lifelines to communities.

•    Developing data-intensive methods for using public and social network information and online network activity to determine and develop resiliency metrics.

Impacts of the Solution to the Grand Challenge

Many participants stated that a critical need for evaluating community resilience is an understanding of “baseline” measures of resilience to enable measurements of the changes in resilience that take place over time. Such changes could include reductions in expected losses that accompany the adoption and implementation of new codes, retrofit programs, and other improvements in the earthquake resistance of the built environment. They also could include changes in social vulnerability and resilience (such as those related to fluctuations in income levels, migration patterns, and the size of at-risk populations) and changes in exposure to risk (e.g., due to decisions to develop or to restrict development in hazardous areas). Participants stressed that observatory networks are needed, in part, because vulnerability and resilience are continually in flux. Research and methodological approaches that take into account ever-changing community vulnerability and resilience profiles, in their view, would be genuinely transformational. The lack of longitudinal resilience data makes it difficult or impossible to determine whether measures that are intended to reduce future losses actually make a difference. Such data could also reveal social factors that affect resilience independent of the kinds of engineering advances that were emphasized during the workshop.

Participants noted that the impact of a more holistic framework for measuring, monitoring, and evaluating community resilience could be enormous. Better models and data for understanding community resilience could facilitate more effective decision making, and in turn, improved community resilience. Validated profiles of community performance that result from detailed and rich datasets from past events could enhance the confidence of decision makers in the tools and methodologies developed by the research community. This, in turn, could enhance their use both before and after major earthquakes.

DECISION MAKING

Description of the Problem

Many workshop participants noted that achieving earthquake resilience requires a community-based, holistic approach that includes decisions and actions that are based on overarching goals, a clear understanding of the built environment, rapid and informed assessment data, and planned reconstruction and recovery processes. Communities typically build based on traditional standards, and when affected by major earthquakes, respond and recover based on intuition, improvisation, and adaptive behaviors that are drawn from the individuals available to participate. Consequently, the lessons learned in one community and event rarely translate to the next community affected. In order to facilitate better decision making, participants explained, meaningful data are needed that allow end users to quantify current and improved levels of community resilience. They stressed the importance of using historical data when testing and validating strategies for translating the results of quantitative and qualitative studies on community resilience.

Characteristics of the Grand Challenge

An observation reiterated during the workshop is that research on community resilience has not made a significant impact on the decisions and actions of decision makers. Prior to a seismic event, for example, interest in seismic mitigation and preparedness is often limited or non-existent. Immediately following an event, the environment within which decisions must be made by first responders and the public can be chaotic and complex, hindering optimal decision making. A number of participants suggested that the scientific and engineering community should explore the complexities of these operational environments and how they evolve on multiple length and time scales. They also expressed a need for basic research to explore a variety of mechanisms for motivating action, including:

  • Providing information and developing incentives for action.
  • Developing simulation-based decision-making strategies for use in community development, pre-event planning, early post-event response, and through the long-term recovery process.
  • Providing incentives to promote community development and pre-event planning.
  • Using state-of-the-art decision-making tools that would lead to more efficient resource allocations.
  • Developing methodologies and tools that allow decision makers to compare different strategies for post-earthquake reconstruction and long-term pre-earthquake mitigation.
Suggested Citation:"2 Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research." National Research Council. 2011. Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research: A Community Workshop Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13167.
×
  • Performing case studies that demonstrate the efficacy of proper planning and response after damaging events.

Participants suggested that exploring how society approaches preparedness and post-event response and recovery could help ensure that lessons are learned from past seismic events and applied to community development and rebuilding, requiring a transition to a community-based risk management and resilience paradigm.

Transformative Approaches to the Solution

Many participants expressed a need for more fundamental research on decision making under conditions of uncertainty, and decision making for low-probability/high-consequence events, along with basic research and research integration in areas such as public administration and public policy, communication theory and practice, knowledge and technology transfer, and decision science. They suggested that this research relate both to pre-event (planning, construction standards, prioritization, simulators, training) and post-event scenarios (emergency response and recovery). Ubiquitous sensor data would be required to drive the decision support engines. In the post-event period, heterogeneous inputs and outputs from a range of linked simulation systems (coupled with field sensor data) could be managed and assessment information used to inform first responders for efficient resource allocation. Precise quantitative assessment of the damage state would be critical, along with an assessment of the impact of damaged systems/components on other interdependent systems. A partnership between engineers, scientists, and the emergency management community could remove barriers for adopting new technologies, and cyberinfrastructure could support the near-real-time delivery of information that supports post-event recovery activities. New information technologies could allow decision makers to share information across organizations without the threat of security leaks or breaches.

Many participants noted that efficient and accelerated recovery requires timely post-event repair and rebuilding decisions that take into account models and tools to forecast long-term consequences and the impacts of potential mitigation options (such as land buyouts, redesign/reconstruction changes). In their view, current models do not adequately reflect longer-term cascading impacts of large-scale disasters, and the resilience of repair technologies is not well understood. An effective system of post-disaster mitigation and recovery assistance could utilize a “resilience basis” to determine best use of public funds.

Participants suggested that the integration of research on risk communication and decision making with methods developed for resilience assessment, including simulation and visualization studies, could lead to new approaches to planning and stimulate action. Deployment could involve expanded technology transfer that includes education studies to facilitate close collaboration between researchers and decision makers. Application of advanced information technology (e.g., cloud computing, apps, and HTML5-enabled web) and social networking-style approaches could help to improve resiliency communication, education, and decision support.

Participants also noted that the current links between ubiquitous data streams, high-fidelity modeling, and effective decision making are weak or non-existent. These connections could be enhanced by the development of an integrated system that identifies events, creates and monitors real-time data, updates models, incorporates crowd sourcing technologies, and informs decision makers. Real-time assessment of damage to buildings and infrastructure could help in defining effective recovery strategies that emphasize the rebuilding of community sectors that promote rapid economic as well as social development. This could lead to a paradigm shift away from solely engineering solutions to a holistic suite of resilience options including land use planning, performance-based construction standards, and different configurations of post-event reconstruction. However, participants also noted the challenges involved with developing such a system—the linkage between technological solutions and effective decision making would need to address a number of fundamental social science and policy questions (e.g., in the context of competing community needs, when is the most appropriate time to promote an earthquake resiliency policy agenda?). Participants stressed the importance of developing an integrated system that addresses loss reduction, decision making, and complex cognitive, social, political, and economic dimensions in this process.

Impacts of the Solution to the Grand Challenge

Workshop participants highlighted potential impacts associated with meeting this Grand Challenge. Comprehensive support engines for decision makers would likely lead to significant savings of lives and losses, transformative potential for training and educating the next generation of professionals, direct dissemination of research into practice, more rapid and accurate post-earthquake assessments (in terms of both response and recovery), and measurable output that allows decision makers to track and evaluate the impact of their decisions.

SIMULATION

Description of the Problem

Participants noted that large-scale seismic events pose countless safety and logistical challenges to dense urban communities populated with both people and critical infrastructure systems. Many dense urban centers have grown over decades with multiple stakeholders involved in the planning, construction, and management of the infrastructure

Suggested Citation:"2 Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research." National Research Council. 2011. Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research: A Community Workshop Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13167.
×

systems that support the economic prosperity and quality of life of the society. With these considerations in mind, workshop participants discussed the need for a new generation of high-performance simulation technologies to accurately forecast the physical, social, and economic impacts of large-scale seismic events on dense urban regions.

Characteristics of the Grand Challenge

Because of the complex growth patterns in urban regions, knowledge of the inventory of infrastructure components and points of connection between different infrastructure types is lacking (NRC, 2011). Although individual state agencies and utilities may maintain databases of their infrastructure systems, many of these databases are proprietary and use a myriad of database standards, making interoperability challenging. Provided that infrastructure systems are interconnected and have vulnerabilities at their points of interconnection, there is an opportunity for new methods focused on autonomously creating a comprehensive database that provides a complete mapping of all infrastructure systems in a region. Hence, a number of workshop participants stressed the need for scalable tools that autonomously create an accurate database of all infrastructure components, including points of interdependency with other infrastructure components. Empowered with this complete mapping of an urban center’s infrastructure systems, powerful simulation technologies could model the time and spatial impacts of a seismic event at all length scales, spanning from the component scale to the regional scale, and from disaster response to community recovery.

Transformative Approaches to the Solution

Several participants noted that to effectively address the Grand Challenge, wide gaps of scientific and engineering knowledge will need to be bridged to create transformative solutions. These gaps were highlighted in the presentation by Omar Ghattas2 and in the “pre-event prediction and planning” breakout group discussions. For example, it will be important to explore new technologies aimed toward the creation of a comprehensive urban infrastructure database from both proprietary data sources (e.g., utilities’ inventory databases) as well as from analysis of socioeconomic data sources (e.g., census data, economic indicators). The end result will be the creation of an infrastructure “genome,” much like the genome used to map the fundamental protein structures that make up life. Tools that allow the genome to evolve with the growth patterns of the urban region itself could be created to ensure long-term accuracy and validity. Powerful new forms of multi-scale computing architectures could be created to link a heterogeneous array of simulation tools to provide a complete toolset for regional simulation of the impact of an earthquake and tsunami. High-performance computing technology that enables repeated simulation for stochastic modeling of earthquake responses and community responses would likely be a key technology. To update and verify the multi-scale simulation environment, the data generated by sensors embedded in the built environment for both seismic and infrastructure monitoring may be explicitly utilized. A sensor fusion approach could incorporate other forms of data including data derived from remote sensing technologies and crowd sourcing datasets.

Impacts of the Solution to the Grand Challenge

Participants discussed the enormous potential benefits of such a rich and expressive simulator toolbox. A means of autonomously creating an accurate inventory of infrastructure systems without relying upon the sharing of information from the many owners of the infrastructure components, some noted, would offer the engineering and social science community an unprecedented opportunity to utilize inventories of infrastructure systems that enable regional modeling of the short- and long-term impacts of large earthquakes and tsunamis. The tools that link simulation across multiple length and timescales could enable predictive modeling that could shape the community’s efforts in preparedness yet allow emergency response officials to create optimal plans that most efficiently allocate their scarce resources immediately after an event. Furthermore, simulation of how infrastructure systems are interdependent, both in operation and failure, could provide a wealth of new knowledge on how complex, regionally distributed infrastructure systems are vulnerable to regionally destructive events such as tsunamis. Beyond earthquake engineering, fundamental science aimed toward linking heterogeneous simulation tools that incorporate physical models with the simulation of community response to disasters could facilitate discovery for other forms of natural and man-made hazards.

MITIGATION

Description of the Problem

Community resilience, as described by participants in the “pre-event prediction and planning” breakout group, fundamentally depends on developing risk assessment and mitigation strategies for the renewal and retrofit of the infrastructure sectors most highly vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis. These sectors include water and wastewater supply and distribution systems, power and energy infrastructure, communication systems, transportation systems, at-risk buildings, and coastal communities in seismic zones. A number of participants noted that improvement in mitigation requires proactive changes in public policy that facilitate new

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2 See the white paper in Appendix B by Omar Ghattas, the keynote speaker on Modeling and Simulation: “Uncertainty Quantification and Exascale Computing: Opportunities and Challenges for Earthquake Engineering.”

Suggested Citation:"2 Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research." National Research Council. 2011. Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research: A Community Workshop Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13167.
×

strategies for safe and robust design and construction; proposals for innovative funding strategies to upgrade vulnerable sectors of the built environment; and a range of options available to create resilient designs for both existing and new systems. Consequently, it would be important to document the current vulnerabilities within the built environment; to prioritize the most crucial mitigation needs; and to develop cost-effective and sustainable mitigation strategies that are embraced by the communities at risk.

Characteristics of the Grand Challenge

A large earthquake or tsunami in a highly populated region of the United States would cause massive damage to the built environment and communities in the region. The resulting social and economic consequences would cascade across the country, particularly if major energy, transportation or supply hubs are affected. As an example, Kobe, Japan, has yet to recover completely from the 1995 Great Hanshin earthquake. Participants noted that the potential consequences of inadequate mitigation of the built environment’s most vulnerable sectors are acute. Therefore, this Grand Challenge includes developing strategies for identifying and prioritizing the sectors of the national built environment that are most vulnerable to catastrophic losses from earthquakes and tsunamis, in addition to developing approaches for renewal and retrofit of these sectors to ensure a safer environment and a more resilient community. As important, meeting this Grand Challenge involves providing fundamental strategies that mesh with related national priorities—such as ensuring national competitiveness and economic growth in key regions of the country that are vulnerable to seismic risk—as well as enabling new solutions for reviving the built infrastructure to ensure more sustainable and secure communities.

Key characteristics of this Grand Challenge include developing strategies to measure, monitor, and model a community’s vulnerability, motivations, and mitigation strategies, and establishing mitigation solutions for its most vulnerable sectors. Strategies could be based on the use of a new generation of simulation tools and design solutions coupled with up-to-date information available from distributed sensing systems. Individual participants noted that these strategies would require:

  • Accessing an accurate inventory of built assets (e.g., buildings, lifeline networks, socioeconomic data, policy data, natural environment, and topology).
  • Understanding the scope of possible seismic and tsunami hazards, including the range of likely magnitudes, locations, recurrence intervals, and ground motion characteristics.
  • Developing advanced simulation tools that provide a range of information on potential catastrophic consequences of scenario seismic and tsunami events based on forecasting of future inventory, population dynamics, and trends in design and construction.
  • Modeling interconnected and interdependent distributed systems, including lifelines.
  • Accessing distributed sensor sets to update model parameters to ensure accurate data for simulations, and coupling simulations with sensor inputs.
  • Establishing a broad range of performance metrics to ensure decisions related to mitigation priorities.
  • Integrating uncertainty modeling to facilitate informed decisions.
  • Developing quantitative approaches that facilitate incorporation of individual and organizational motivations for promoting mitigation.
  • Modeling public and private funding strategies for mitigation to enable thorough assessment of options.
  • Developing aggregate inventories of community risk/ resiliency for use in land use planning and emergency planning.
  • Integrating mitigation strategies and new design solutions to reduce seismic and tsunami risks that incorporate new developments in sustainable materials and technologies.

Transformative Approaches to the Solution

Participants suggested that the most effective strategies for assessing risk and prioritizing mitigation strategies would integrate related key elements that influence decisions on renewal and facility retrofit or replacement. These elements might include, but are not limited to:

  • Strategic prioritization to achieve economic growth and urban redevelopment.
  • Regional or local security.
  • Public health objectives related to clean air and water.
  • Energy policies and priorities.
  • New methods of infrastructure procurement to maximize the amount of seismic and tsunami mitigation that may be achieved within limited budgets.

Vulnerability assessment and prioritization of renewal options could be achieved through regional simulations and design strategies that access data from an array of distributed databases and sensor networks and link layered simulations of seismic and tsunami events. Participants indicated this could result in documentation of direct damage and socioeconomic impacts as well as enhanced performance based on scenario mitigation solutions. New mitigation solutions could enable cost-effective retrofit and renewal options for the most vulnerable sectors of the community. Open access data architecture could enable access and use of distributed databases and sensor arrays. A number of participants noted that new strategies to understand the linkages between the physics-based phenomena that lead to infrastructure damage,

Suggested Citation:"2 Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research." National Research Council. 2011. Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research: A Community Workshop Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13167.
×

and socioeconomic and policy phenomena that result, are important for prioritizing the vulnerability of sectors of the infrastructure and regional populations.

Impacts of the Solution to the Grand Challenge

Solving this Grand Challenge could directly enhance community resilience. New strategies for identifying the most vulnerable sectors of the built environment could help communities to better mitigate seismic, tsunami, and related cascading hazards.

DESIGN TOOLS

Description of the Problem

This Grand Challenge involves developing and exploiting new materials and innovative structural concepts and integrating them within design tools to improve the performance of all types of infrastructure and to increase earthquake resilience in a sustainable manner. Participants noted a wide range of sustainable, highly resilient, new materials that offer opportunities to change the way infrastructure is designed and constructed.3 Innovative types of structural systems, such as self-centering systems with replaceable fuses, could exploit these new stronger but more brittle materials. The power of PBEE could be harnessed to achieve resilient infrastructure incorporating these innovative new materials and structural systems. Participants emphasized that fundamental research is needed to extend existing PBEE techniques for buildings to cover the full range of infrastructures, including lifelines and other critical facilities. Supporting all these developments in high-fidelity testing and modeling techniques would likely achieve a high level of confidence in performance prediction for the complete range of infrastructure types.

Characteristics of the Grand Challenge

Participants noted that this Grand Challenge would require fundamental research into new materials and structural systems that have the potential to transform the construction, repair, and seismic performance of infrastructure. Extensive testing and modeling would be needed before such developments could be implemented within existing PBEE methodologies. Some specific challenges to be addressed include:

  • New validated physics/mechanics-based models for the many new materials becoming available to the earthquake engineering community.
  • Methodologies to assess the environmental (e.g., carbon footprint) and performance-related impact of potential repair, retrofit, and new construction methods.
  • Utilization of new materials and systems to develop better, less-expensive options for repair and retrofit.
  • Many constraints (e.g., complexity) that limit the use of PBEE in the design of new structures.
  • Extension of PBEE to incorporate a holistic assessment of fragility including the involvement of nonstructural elements, foundations and soil-structure interaction, structure, building content, services, and the adjacent buildings. A more developed PBEE could take into account multiple hazards—such as fire, tsunami, and aftershocks—and consequence functions that consider the wider societal impact of damage, including business interruptions and downtime.
  • Reliable fragility data for the full range of infrastructure types, including bridges, lifelines, and critical structures requiring physical testing of components and complete systems (some participants stated that although such systems are complex multi-scale problems, a move away from empirical data is needed).
  • Fundamental research to understand the influence of aging and degradation of infrastructure in order to develop appropriate fragility data for existing infrastructure.

Transformative Approaches to the Solution

Participants acknowledged that achieving a high level of confidence in performance prediction for materials, subsystems, and complete structures requires the availability of high-fidelity testing and simulation techniques, encompassing:

  • The development of detailed mechanics-based models for modeling materials and subsystems using high-performance computing or parallel computing facilities to study system behavior over a wide range of scales.
  • Creation of reference datasets from experimental tests for analysis comparisons and blind prediction studies to increase confidence in the numerical simulations.
  • Development of methods for automated validation of proposed analytical models against existing empirical datasets.
  • Development of software platforms and hardware-in-the-loop techniques for testing materials and structural components with realistic boundary conditions and permitting physics-based modeling of interdependencies among lifeline systems.

A number of participants also emphasized the need for development of new and emerging materials normally

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3 See the white paper in Appendix B by John Halloran, the keynote speaker on Materials: “A Built Environment from Fossil Carbon.”

Suggested Citation:"2 Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research." National Research Council. 2011. Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research: A Community Workshop Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13167.
×

used outside the construction sector (such as ultra-high-performance concrete, carbon products, green binders, recycled materials, autoadaptive self-healing materials) that could be used for retrofit and construction of sustainable yet highly resilient infrastructure systems. This would require research into innovative ways to incorporate such materials in structures, energy capture, and brittle fuses, along with research into methods for using these new materials and techniques to create economical retrofitting systems and protection systems. Participants noted that new methods would also be needed for incorporating reparability into new designs and the development of performance metrics to quantify resilience and sustainability in a holistic manner. Benchmarking could ensure reliable development of PBEE, along with better analysis techniques and statistical methods for characterization of uncertainties. The development of reliable fragility curves for bridges, lifelines, and critical systems would also be important. Extension of the building information management systems developed for building infrastructure for the modeling lifeline systems could open up new ways to characterize such systems.

Impacts of the Solution to the Grand Challenge

Workshop participants noted that the development of new materials, systems, and design tools offers many opportunities to create more resilient and sustainable societies. The composites—utilizing carbon or other materials—currently being developed and used within other engineering sectors have the potential to transform the way infrastructure is designed and dramatically improve the resilience of infrastructure systems in an earthquake. Participants expressed the view that most existing composites are not appropriate for infrastructure use, but more economical construction grade variants of these materials would still be significantly stronger and lighter than standard construction materials while being appreciably more sustainable. New materials also offer opportunities to design economical retrofitting systems that could be appropriate for any community. Full acceptance and implementation of PBEE has the potential to transform the way all types of infrastructure are designed. New high-fidelity testing techniques could reduce the dependence of larger scale simulations on empirical evidence and support the development of more accurate decision support tools. The potential exists to design and build vastly improved protective systems, which might also incorporate innovative features such as energy capture from the earthquake motion.

Suggested Citation:"2 Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research." National Research Council. 2011. Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research: A Community Workshop Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13167.
×

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Suggested Citation:"2 Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research." National Research Council. 2011. Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research: A Community Workshop Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13167.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research." National Research Council. 2011. Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research: A Community Workshop Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13167.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research." National Research Council. 2011. Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research: A Community Workshop Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13167.
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Page 13
Suggested Citation:"2 Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research." National Research Council. 2011. Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research: A Community Workshop Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13167.
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Page 14
Suggested Citation:"2 Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research." National Research Council. 2011. Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research: A Community Workshop Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13167.
×
Page 15
Suggested Citation:"2 Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research." National Research Council. 2011. Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research: A Community Workshop Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13167.
×
Page 16
Suggested Citation:"2 Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research." National Research Council. 2011. Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research: A Community Workshop Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13167.
×
Page 17
Suggested Citation:"2 Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research." National Research Council. 2011. Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research: A Community Workshop Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13167.
×
Page 18
Suggested Citation:"2 Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research." National Research Council. 2011. Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research: A Community Workshop Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13167.
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Page 19
Suggested Citation:"2 Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research." National Research Council. 2011. Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research: A Community Workshop Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13167.
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Page 20
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Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research: A Community Workshop Report Get This Book
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As geological threats become more imminent, society must make a major commitment to increase the resilience of its communities, infrastructure, and citizens. Recent earthquakes in Japan, New Zealand, Haiti, and Chile provide stark reminders of the devastating impact major earthquakes have on the lives and economic stability of millions of people worldwide. The events in Haiti continue to show that poor planning and governance lead to long-term chaos, while nations like Chile demonstrate steady recovery due to modern earthquake planning and proper construction and mitigation activities.

At the request of the National Science Foundation, the National Research Council hosted a two-day workshop to give members of the community an opportunity to identify "Grand Challenges" for earthquake engineering research that are needed to achieve an earthquake resilient society, as well as to describe networks of earthquake engineering experimental capabilities and cyberinfrastructure tools that could continue to address ongoing areas of concern. Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research: A Community Workshop Report explores the priorities and problems regions face in reducing consequent damage and spurring technological preparedness advances.

Over the course of the Grand Challenges in Earthquake Engineering Research workshop, 13 grand challenge problems emerged and were summarized in terms of five overarching themes including: community resilience framework, decision making, simulation, mitigation, and design tools. Participants suggested 14 experimental facilities and cyberinfrastructure tools that would be needed to carry out testing, observations, and simulations, and to analyze the results. The report also reviews progressive steps that have been made in research and development, and considers what factors will accelerate transformative solutions.

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