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Antiseismic Preparedness and Protection

 

Earthquakes are natural phenomena, which Man cannot avoid. However, Man is in a position to reduce considerably or even obliterate the effects of earthquakes on structures and generally on the environment and in this way offer protection to himself. There are many measures which Man can take within the framework of preparedness in order to face the consequences of earthquakes, most of which revolve around three axes: a) the study and better understanding of the seismicity and seismic behaviour of an area; b) the construction of seismic resistant structures and the anti-seismic shielding of existing structures; and c) the establishment of the necessary infrastructure for the immediate and effective reaction following an earthquake. Coordinated efforts to apply various measures within the framework of the above three axes started in Cyprus at the beginning of the 1980s, mainly by the official authorities but with the support of other institutions and organisations. The measures that have been taken mainly included the following:

 

a)    In the framework of the first axis, i.e. the study and better understanding of the seismicity and seismic hazard, the establishment in 1984 and the operation of a seismological station on Cyprus, the establishment of a network of accelerometers and the carrying out of seismic hazard and neotectonic studies can be included. These measures have been taken by the GSD. The operation of a seismological station allowed for the possibility of the collection of numerous accurate data regarding the earthquakes occurring in the Cyprus region. The processing and analysis of these data has considerably assisted the definition of the seismic sources, and estimation of the expected magnitudes of earthquakes, their recurrence periods and various other parameters that make up the seismicity of the Cyprus region.

 

The first four accelerometers (Photo S2) were installed by the GSD in the southern part of Cyprus in 1986. By the end of 2003, forty accelerometers were installed in the same part of Cyprus and in particular in the coastal areas, which cover various geological formations. The accelerometers measure the acceleration with which the ground shakes during an earthquake, a parameter that is necessary for the determination of the dynamic behaviour of soils (i.e. under earthquake conditions).

 

Similarly, six strong motion instruments were installed in the northern part of Cyprus in August 1996 by the Near-East University, in cooperation with Kandilli Observatory and the Earthquake Research Institute, Department of Earthquake Engineering, to form the Strong Motion Network in that area.

 

The neotectonic studies aim at mapping the active faults, i.e. faults along which there is recent movement and can produce earthquakes, and estimating the parameters of these faults. Neotectonic studies were first carried out in Cyprus towards the end of the 1990s. So far they have covered the areas of Limassol, Pafos (Figure S8) and Nicosia and they are continuously extended so that they eventually cover the whole of Cyprus.

 

The seismic hazard or microzonation studies (Figure S9), as they are also known, aim at determining and mapping the response of the ground, i.e. the magnitude and kind of earth movement, and generally its behaviour in the case of an earthquake. In carrying out these studies various data are taken into consideration and co-estimated, like the seismic sources which can affect the area under study, the prevailing geological and geotechnical conditions and the accelerometer recordings. The results of such studies are taken seriously into consideration by civil engineers in the design of structures.

 

b)    In the framework of the second axis, i.e. the construction of seismic resistant structures and the antiseismic shielding of existing structures, the first steps were taken in 1986 with the introduction of the  “Brief Antiseismic Measures” which was then followed in 1994 by the introduction of the “Seismic Code”, whose application was compulsory for structures with reinforced concrete. These actions were taken by the Seismic Engineering Committee of the Association of Civil Engineers and Architects and the Cyprus Committee of Antiseismic Measures in cooperation with relevant official services. Efforts are being made today by the Scientific and Technical Chamber of Cyprus to harmonise the Seismic Code of 1994 with Eurocode 8 for the Design of Structures for Earthquake Resistance.

 

Since 1998, in the northern part of Cyprus, conferences and seminars have been held by the Near-East University, the meteorological authorities, the Chambers of Architects and Civil Engineering as well as the planning and construction authorities. In addition to this, the most important research and study was carried out by the town planning authorities before the approval of the Nicosia Master Plan in 2000.

 

In the last few years, and in particular after the earthquake of 11th August 1999, studies of the seismic risk of existing structures were initiated. Priority was given to the seismic shielding of school buildings. Within the framework of a project supported by the Bi-communal Development Programme, which is funded by USAID and UNDP and is executed by UNOPS, a seismic risk study of Nicosia was carried out and it is expected that similar studies will be conducted in the future in the other towns.

 

c) In the framework of the third axis, i.e. the establishment of the necessary infrastructure for the immediate and effective reaction following an earthquake, important steps have been taken in the last few years by the GCC. The most important step appears to have been the legislation and application of the “Civil Defence Law”. Other steps refer to the better organisation of the Civil Defence Service, the establishment of the “Damage Restoration Service” and the formation and training of rescue teams. Several other services and organisations, like the district administrations, the technical departments and the Technical and Scientific Chamber of Cyprus have been organised for immediate action in the case of an earthquake.

 

 

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