Skip to main content

John M Nichols

John M Nichols, Associate Professor, Construction Science Department, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, 77843-3139

Masonry is a culturally preferred building product in Indonesia and Italy. The use of culturally preferred products, can often lead to interesting challenges in minimizing the loss of life in building collapse in earthquakes. A culturally preferred building product is one that has widespread local acceptance, such as clay roofing tiles in Newcastle, Australia, which often limit the use of other
products, from cultural resistance to change. This problem of discussing culturally preferred building product is faced by researchers who look at causes for deaths in earthquakes and who seek to fairly comment on material use, but need to be aware of cultural sensitivities. This paper outlines in a first stage, a statistical analysis of the distribution of deaths in two fatal earthquakes,
the 2016 Central Italy and 2006 Jogjakarta events. The two earthquakes are amongst a small category of highly fatal earthquakes for the earthquake magnitude. The highly fatal earthquakes provide an upper bound to likely human losses and human loss rates. The paper compares the results to previous statistical studies of other fatal earthquakes for calibration purposes. The second stage is to consider the impact of a culturally preferred building product on the human losses. As a standard method of analysis, the statistical procedures consider the change in the fatality loss rate with distance and the spatial variations in the rates of loss. The results are entirely consistent with earlier results determined for other fatal events. The findings point to a change in the rate of loss with distance and geographic features, such as river banks or mountains or fault orientation or the use of a preferred building product. The rate of human loss is neither linear or squared, but
somewhere in between these extremes. The mathematical results are useful for estimating potential losses in future theoretical earthquakes and for considering the ethical questions as to the use of publicly preferred building products. The events provide a window in the impact of publicly  preferred building products and highlight some of the interesting ethical issues in construction.

KEYWORDS: human, losses, masonry, public preference, loss rate, Indonesia, Italy


Get in touch with our team

The Canada Masonry Design Centre helps members of the design community across the country by connecting them to the resources and supports they need. Contact us today and get the conversation started!

Contact Us