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Design Considerations for New Construction in Areas of Induced Seismicity

  • 18 Jul 2017
  • 11:45 AM - 1:00 PM
  • Maggiano's Little Italy North Park
  • 8


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Design Considerations for New Construction in Areas of Induced Seismicity  

Brad Watson, P.E. and Sebastian Varela, Ph.D.

Freese and Nichols, Inc.


Recent earthquakes in the central United States, which are believed to have been induced by deep wastewater injection, are concerning building owners and structural engineers, especially in areas such as Oklahoma and North Texas, where seismic loads seldom control a design.  Are these new earthquakes the same as conventional earthquakes?  Why have they only caused damage in a specific set of structures, while others have not been affected? Should we modify the current seismic design provisions?  Are we now supposed to design as if we were in southern California?  How will this affect the local practice?  What can structural designers do about this?  These are some of the questions structural engineers and their clients in the area are now asking themselves. 

This presentation aims to answer some of these questions by outlining the key differences between the behavior of structures and non-structural components subjected to tectonic earthquakes and induced vibration.   It will be shown why the direct application of modern tectonic seismic provisions can lead to unwanted consequences if used for induced vibration.  A method to incorporate the results of recent theoretical studies on induced vibration hazard into the practice is proposed and illustrated in a design example.

About the Speakers:

Dr. Sebastian Varela is a bridge engineer at Freese and Nichols, Inc., where he is responsible for a wide variety of bridge design and evaluation projects.  He has PhD in bridge earthquake engineering from the University of Nevada, Reno, where he was also a post-doctoral research fellow.  At the University of Nevada, Dr. Varela was involved in the development and testing of new systems for resilient accelerated bridge construction in high seismic areas.  Dr. Varela also holds cum laude BS and MS degrees in Civil Engineering with an emphasis on structural and earthquake engineering from the University of los Andes in Bogota, Colombia.  Dr. Varela has extensive experience in the utilization of advanced computational techniques and large-scale testing to model and design complex and unconventional structures.  Dr. Varela recently passed the vertical and lateral components of the 16-hour NCEES structural engineering (SE) exam for bridges and is in the process of becoming a registered professional engineer in the state of Texas and pursue structural engineering licensure in other states.

Brad Watson has a BS in civil engineering from Texas Tech University and a MS degree in civil engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. Mr. Watson is a licensed professional engineer in 13 states and is a firm Associate and manager of Freese and Nichols' structural group. He has extensive design experience in building design as well as various water resource and dam-related structures, including management of large teams in the design and renovation of facilities. Mr. Watson has significant experience in the design and evaluation of new and existing structures. He has performed and managed the finite element analysis of numerous steel and concrete structures. He manages a group of skilled structural engineers responsible for the structural design of the diversity of project types provided by FNI including: bridges, water treatment and distribution systems, water storage facilities, storm water handling, wastewater treatment facilities, roadways, mass transit facilities, parking structures, erosion and flood control, among others.



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