lessons from the tragedy in haiti

27 01 2010

[By SD]   I went to a very interesting seminar yesterday at Berkeley on the preliminary reconnaissance of the tragic Haiti Earthquake. You can watch the entire webcast on:


You can find the photo collection of the speaker (Eduardo Fierro) at:


My overall impression was that:

1) This disaster was tragic, but unfortunately not unique. Similar to many developing countries, the tragedy was not caused by the earthquake, but by bad construction and related policies

2) We, as engineers, can help Haiti through grassroots actions, organizations, and networks, such as Build Change or GeoHazard International Read the rest of this entry »


our proposed uRespond concept sketches for the “random hacks of kindness” event

7 11 2009
URespond advisor's presentation.006-001

simple rapid user input

URespond advisor's presentation.007-001

mapping of local user updates

current emergency response protocol

Read the rest of this entry »

tehran’s minor earthquake on saturday

19 10 2009

Tehran experienced a minor earthquake (Richter magnitude 4) on Saturday at 2:23 pm local time (http://www.tehrantimes.com/index_View.asp?code=205750). It seems that most Tehranies felt this shake. There is now a widespread fear of aftershocks and possibly bigger earthquakes due to more activities on the Eivanaki fault in southeast Tehran. Since information on the historical activity of this fault seems to be limited, it is difficult to make accurate probabilistic predictions on the likelihood of an aftershock. But it is certainly possible and quite likely to have another earthquake soon (not necessarily related to this particular fault movement). Tehran sits on major active faults and suffers from a large seismic risk due to fault activity, poor construction practice, and large population. The occurance of this recent minor earthquake may have influenced the stresses in the surrounding faults and might have increased the existing seismic risk facing Tehran.

 tehran map

Tehrani residents, engineers, contractors, general public, please be aware and pay attention to this important risk that you will have to deal with sooner or later. To learn how to protect yourself before, during, and after an earthquake, visit this site by FEMA: http://www.fema.gov/hazard/earthquake/index.shtm

In two of our previous posts, we also had some good discussion on earthquake preparedness in Tehran:



Tehrani engineers, architects, and contractors: I assume that you already know how to make earthquake resistant structures in a cost-effective way. If you have questions/concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me and I will try my best to send you information on the current state of practice (in structural and geotechnical design) for your specific project. If you are not convinced about the risks facing your city and need more information on the probability of earthquakes in the coming years, also please don’t hesitate to let me know or contact someone at IIEES in Tehran (http://www.iiees.ac.ir/). Keep in mind that you are responsible for your building, and negligence and lack of knowledge are not acceptable any more.

tehran disaster management

13 05 2009

[By SD]   I came across this link yesterday and thought it might be interesting to TehranShake: www.tdmmo.ir13850810-204031-portal2

pakistan hit by quake

29 10 2008

[By Shideh]   Pakistan suffered from a magnitude 6.4 earthquake today: about 500 people were killed and thousands were left homeless. I want to offer my condolences to the people of Pakistan and particularly to those who were affected. It is truly heart-breaking and it’s a shame that we still witness such losses in a century of information technology and knowledge.  




Photo courtesy of Daily Nation



The tremor is reported to have flattened entire villages (click here for more detail).  The earthquake struck southwest Pakistan before dawn as people were preparing for the first prayer of the day. Many evacuated their homes after the first, smaller tremor shook their houses, went outside and waited for awhile but returned back in because of cold weather. It is reported that about 20 minutes later the large earthquake hit, flattening many houses and killing hundreds.


The earthquake was located about 60km northeast of the provincial capital Quetta.  Timber and mud with heavy walls are common construction materials in the area. The challenge now is to provide food and shelter to those who survived – in this cold weather. The ability of the government to respond effectively to the people’s urgent needs is questionable. Click here for news.


This earthquake affected a few villages in Pakistan, but it is yet another warning to every village and city in the region where active faults are present.  All these cities will face the same fate sooner or later when the next earthquake hits (in Pakistan, India, Iran, Turkey, etc.).  Why does it remain to be a challenge to understand the risks that we are facing and to act promptly? Read the rest of this entry »

another reminder: building collapsed in tehran

30 06 2008

[By Shideh]   A 7-story building in Tehran collapsed today, sadly killing at least 3 people.  The design engineers and contractors have been arrested and they currently face trial. The mayor of Tehran, Mr. Qalibaf, has blamed the engineering community (Nezam e Mohandesi) for failing to properly oversee the design and construction practice and has requested the judiciary branch to penalize the responsible parties severely.


Photo courtesy of BBC


According to the ISNA news, the city of Tehran has evacuated the buildings around the collapsed structure until they are closely evaluated.

I’m glad that the media is giving this event proper attention and the responsible agencies are under the magnifying glass of national and international news sources.  It seems to me, however, that the city of Tehran, under the supervision of the new mayor, has improved to respond to such failures with a higher sense of authority and strength.  

I personally hope that the responsible parties, either engineers, contractors, or owners who did not design the building properly or did not completely evacuate the building on time after noticing the excessive settlement of the column, will be penalized with no room for bribery.  This is a fundamental step in training the engineering community toward ethical and responsible practice where negligence can lead to such life-threatening disasters. This event reminds me of an old post in which I wrote about a quote by one of my professors here in Berkeley: “you have the power of God in your hands as engineers, you can save lives and can take lives.”


My fellow aghaayoon va khaanoom haye “Mohandess”, let’s remember that with such power, comes great responsibility.

earthquake prone tehran | تهران زلزله خیز

13 06 2008

[By Shideh]   Mr. Alireza Sarvi kindly sent us his article on the earthquake risks that Tehran currently faces; to download the complete article, please click on:  earthquake prone tehran

If you have difficulty downloading the entire file, please try downloading one page at a time as: part_1, part_2, part_3, part_4, part_5, part_6


It’s a great overview of Tehran’s geological and construction history and the risks involved; an insightful and critical study which you may find helpful.