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Discuss the role of land-use planning and zoning for the mitigation of earthquake hazards globally (2010)

Discuss the role of land-use planning and zoning for the mitigation of earthquake hazards globally (2010)

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Published by: Ramiro Aznar Ballarín on Feb 21, 2011
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Discuss the role of land-use planning and zoning for the mitigation of earthquakehazards globally [by Ramiro Aznar Ballarín]Introduction
At 4:53 p.m. local time on January 12
th
2010, the ground under the inhabitants’ feet ofPort-au-Prince trembled. A 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck La Hispaniola Island, just 15 Kmsouthwest of the Haitian capital, causing thousands of deaths and most of the city buildingscollapse. In addition to Port-au-Prince, according to the
United States Geological Survey 
, therehave been ten more earthquakes with 1,000 or more deaths since the year 2000 (
U.S.Geological Survey, 2009
). Earthquakes cause damage through a wide range of effects, fromliquefaction of saturated wet land areas to post-earthquake landslides (
Figure 1
). The majorityof these impacts were concentrated within Global South countries such as Afghanistan, Algeria,Indonesia, China or India. It is been argued that these countries are potentially more vulnerableto natural disasters than their North neighbors due to several interconnected socio-economic,political and environmental factors (
Alcántara-Ayala, 2002
) which lead to a lack of hazardpreparedness.
Figure 1
Liquefaction damage at the port of Port-au-Prince: the dock support has failed and the deck hasslipped into the water, taking the crane with it (
Google Lat Long Blog, 2010
)
(a)
; the earthquake mayhave also triggered landslides and shifted earth so that landslides are more likely in the future (
NASAEarth Observatory, 2010
)
(b)
.
 
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One way to reduce the physical impacts of disasters such as earthquakes is to adopthazard mitigation practices like land-use planning and seismic zonation. On the one hand,according to Lindell and Prater (
2002
), land use practices reduce hazard vulnerability byavoiding construction in areas that are susceptible to hazard impact. They go on to argue thatGovernment agencies can encourage the adoption of appropriate land use practices byestablishing regulations that prevent development in hazardous locations, providing incentivesthat encourage development in safe locations, or informing landowners about the risks andbenefits of development in locations throughout the community. Seismic zonation (or
microzonation 
), on the other hand, refers to the subdivision of a region into smaller zones thathave relatively exposures to various earthquake effects (
Nath et al., 2008
) and, therefore, it isan essential prerequisite to develop good planning.The purpose of the present work is examined the role of seismic zonation and land-useplanning for reducing earthquake hazards globally. In the first section, I will discuss theimportance of microzonation studies and earthquake-resistant building design as bases forstrategies of earthquake hazards mitigation. Finally, I will examine the achievements andlimitations of land-use planning in earthquake world cities and regions such as California.
Microzonation and earthquake-resistant buildings
According to Bolt (
2004
), in order to reduce earthquake risk is necessary to draw up anappropriate set of rules such as seismic safety elements. These documents are usually basedon technical studies called seismic microzonation. Nath et al. (
2008
) suggests that theunderlying concept in microzonation arises from the fact that earthquakes damage in specificareas was larger due to site-dependent factors related to surface geologic conditions and localsoils. For instance, in hilly regions, most of the contribution in the site amplification of groundmotion comes from the radiation pattern and topography area while in flat terrains, soilthickness and near surface low velocity stratigraphy attributes to ground motion amplification. Inaddition to local geology and soil condition, other inputs used in this technique are earthquakescatalogues, information about lineaments, neotectonics and active faults, and geological and
 
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geotechnical aspects (peak ground acceleration, liquefaction potential mapping,geomorphological characterization…) (
Nath et al., 2008
).Smith (
2001
) states that microzonation of land is expensive but necessary in urbanareas where the aim is to convert already developed areas to parkland or other open spacesand to prevent the further development of hazardous places. He goes on to argue that thehighest priority is to map those areas susceptible to enhanced ground-shaking, as a result ofthe presence of soft soils or land fill, because is often the major factor in property damage.Although microzonation maps, according to Olshansky (
2001
), can improve the intelligence ofplanning, the hazard differential is not sufficient to justify regulating land-use type or intensity.He goes on to argue that such maps can be used as the basis for requiring further study andthey can help authorities set priorities in managing land-use, enforce building codes, conductingseismic-strengthening programs for existing buildings, and planning for emergency responseand long-term recovery.
Figure 2
Automobile parking structure at California State University-Northridge collapsed during the 1994Northridge earthquake.
In addition to geological conditions, land use planning should be sensitive to buildingconditions. For example, whilst infrastructure systems (roads, sewers, electrical lines…)performed well in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, other structures such as universities andhospitals, accounted for a large proportion of the total damage (
French, 1995
). In this sense,according to Abbott (
2008
), multistory parking garages are common casualties during

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