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Ashford with the team's Chilean student, Rodrigo

Oregon State professor and head of the School of Civil and Construction Engineering Scott Ashford will be in Chile for the next week, as a part of a 30-member scientific team that will be studying the effects of the recent earthquake. Ashford will be reporting on his experiences in the Powered by Orange blog.

The EERI Bridge team spent all of Friday surveying both damaged and undamaged bridges in Santiago. We were joined by Matias Hube, and Assistant Professor from Universidad Catolica de Chile. He had seen all of the bridges the day after the earthquake, now nearly 3 weeks ago. His insight was valuable because many of the collapsed bridges were already removed and repairs well underway. There is typically a change that takes place about 2 weeks after an earthquake. For our reconnaissance efforts, a hardhat and orange vest will get you access to most sites for about 2 weeks. We found yesterday, at nearly 3 weeks after the earthquake, that our hardhats and vests actually prevented from getting access. We had much better luck with baseball caps and short sleeve shirts, kind of incognito.

We found two very interesting things in Santiago. First, we were able to observe pairs of bridges with different designs side-by-side; one severely damaged, one not. This will give us good insight into the affect of bridge details on the performance. Second, there was the clustering of bridge damage in certain areas of the city, again indicating that local site conditions (soil profile and topography) may have played a significant role in Santiago. I also learned some insight on bridge design from Mark Yashinsky, the Senior Bridge Engineer at Caltrans. He said that their design philosophy boiled down to three simple concepts: Balance, Continuity, and Confinement. Most bridge damage in any earthquake can be attributed to a lack of one of the three. Simple and useful, I like it.

A collapsed bridge in Santiago

I am now packed and doing paperwork (figuratively, I have no paper) for EERI. We have a lot of reporting to do, and we’ve found that it’s bestto do as much as possible before returning home. Corvallis is a long way from Chile. We have a join meeting this afternoon with the Chilean reconnaissance teams, I expect about 50 to 100 people. Then the Discovery crew is supposed taking me to the airport, stopping at a few bridges along the way. I’ll put up some additional photos and video when I get back. See you soon!

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