Assistant Professor Scott Olson will travel to Haiti on Jan. 30 to study how ground failures such as liquefaction and landslides during the recent Magnitude 7.0 earthquake contributed to human casualties and structural damage. He will be one of nine engineers and scientists on a Geo-engineering Extreme Events Reconnaissance (GEER) team.
From aerial photography of Haiti, the team has identified a significant number of landslides and ground failures related to liquefaction, a phenomenon in which strong shaking causes the soil to lose strength and stiffness, behaving like a liquid and failing to support structures. The damage to the port facilities in Port au Prince was largely related to liquefaction of the reclaimed land on which the structures were built, Olson said.
“Understanding these failures will help us develop engineering procedures and designs intended to prevent, or at least reduce, infrastructure damage and loss of life during future events,” Olson said.
The week-long trip is being funded through the U.S. National Science Foundation and the U.S. National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program. Also participating in the investigation are Ellen Rathje and Oscar Suncar of the University of Texas at Austin; Jeff Bachhuber of Fugro/William Lettis and Associates; Brady Cox of the University of Arkansas; Jim French of AMEC/Geomatrix; Russell Green of Virginia Tech; Glenn Rix of the Georgia Institute of Technology; and Donald Wells of AMEC/Geomatrix.
Assistant Professor Scott Olson
Damage in Port au Prince. (Photo by Roger Bilham, University of Colorado)