Seismic building codes draw from hard experience. Over the past century, after major earthquakes, engineers have inspected severely damaged buildings to learn what went wrong. Their findings and recommendations have been written into building codes to help ensure safer, earthquake-resistant construction.
In more recent decades, scientists have gained a deeper understanding of ground shaking and building motion and how they relate to one another. Now, with greater computational capabilities, researchers can create mathematical simulations to expand and systematize our understandingof building motion beyond what is witnessed during and after earthquakes.
In the videos below, Caltech engineering seismologist Thomas Heaton describes what happens to different kinds of buildings during earthquakes. Find out how earthquakes affect houses, high-rises, and other buildings, andwhich are considered the safest and most dangerous places to be.