Washington, December 15 (ANI): In a new research, scientists have suggested that fleeing residents would have a better chance of surviving a tsunami if instead of all attempting an evacuation, some could run to the nearest tall building to ride out the wave, which is known as "vertical evacuation".
Vertical evacuation could save thousands of lives, but only if the city's buildings are reinforced to withstand both earthquakes and tsunamis.
"In the event of a tsunami, hundreds of thousands of people would be at risk and could have been killed, all because they couldn't evacuate fast enough," said Greg Deierlein, professor of civil and environmental engineering.
"Indonesia is at high risk for a large tsunami, and horizontal evacuation strategies alone - by motor vehicle or foot - are clearly not adequate," he said.
Deierlein and some Stanford students are investigating how to build or retrofit buildings to withstand both the earthquake ground shaking and tsunami inundation waves of 15 to 25 feet.
Deierlein led a reconnaissance team of engineers and scientists to Padang, in Western Sumatra, nine days after the September 30 earthquake this year to examine how buildings fared.
"It was like a big living laboratory," he said. "We were able to see how buildings performed and how the city reacted to the threat of a tsunami," he added.
During his visit, he was surprised by how many modern buildings collapsed.
"Existing buildings can be strengthened to perform better under future earthquakes and tsunamis," he said.
Though designing a brand-new building to withstand a tsunami would provide optimal protection from the onslaught of waves, it is often more economical to retrofit.
To retrofit buildings, engineers turn to computer models that combine principles of geophysics and structural engineering.
According to Deierlein, to enhance strength and stiffness, engineers could make concrete columns or beams stronger and more ductile by retrofitting them with fiber-reinforced polymer composite overlays or concrete and steel jackets.
Workers might add steel braces to the frame or construct walls that are reinforced to resist horizontal forces.
Walls in lower stories can be designed to break away under intense pressure from waves to reduce the stress on the building.
To implement the latest research findings in developing countries, the researchers are collaborating with Indonesian government agencies to suggest recommendations for building design and educate engineering students at Andalas University in Padang.
One challenge is training people to think about vertical evacuation.
"Their instinct is to flee inland," Deierlein said. "So we have to figure out how to educate people to have faith in buildings," he added. (ANI)