ShakeOut BC Earthquake Symposium


Dr. Carlos Ventura, Department of Civil Engineering, UBC

During the last three decades, we have learned important lessons from earthquakes that have occurred in urban areas around the world. Today we have a better understanding of how the earthquake mechanism and soil conditions affect the seismic response of buildings and their contents. We have learned that the cost of repairing damage in a building is mainly associated with damage to non-structural components, building contents and the building enclosure. These cost could be as high as 80% of the total cost of repairing a building after an earthquake. This talk will provide an overview of typical damages to buildings observed during recent earthquakes, and will discuss possible ways to prevent these in future earthquakes. The presentation will also show examples of how existing buildings can be retrofitted to make them safe and to improve their behaviour during severe earthquakes.

Carlos Ventura is a Civil Engineer with specializations in structural dynamics and earthquake engineering. He has been a faculty member of the UBC Department of Civil Engineering since 1992. He is currently the Director of the Earthquake Engineering Research Facility (EERF) at UBC, and is the author of more than 300 papers and reports on earthquake engineering, structural dynamics and modal testing. He is a member of several national and international professional societies and advisory committees, including the Canadian Academy of Engineering and Fellow of Engineers Canada. Dr. Ventura has conducted research on effects of earthquakes for more than thirty years. His current research is focused on the development of performance-based guidelines for seismic retrofit of schools. In addition to his academic activities, Dr. Ventura is a recognized international consultant on structural vibrations and safety of large Civil Engineering structures



Abstract (Impacts of Major Urban Earthquakes)
Dr. Stephanie Chang, School of Community and Regional Planning (SCARP) and Institute for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability (IRES), UBC

Drawing on the experiences of major seismic events, this presentation will provide an overview of how earthquakes affect urban communities. It will discuss impacts to housing and shelter, businesses and economy, and critical infrastructure services such as healthcare, transportation, and utilities. The presentation will emphasize impacts in the first few weeks after a disaster. Examples will be drawn from the 2011 earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan, among other disasters.

Stephanie E. Chang is professor at UBC’s School of Community and Regional Planning (SCARP) and Institute for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability (IRES). She holds a Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Disaster Management and Urban Sustainability. Her specialty is in the socio-economic impact of natural disasters, particularly earthquakes.



Abstract (Effects of Seismic Hazard Level, Liquefaction and Soil Conditions on how Buildings Respond to Earthquakes)
Dr. W. D. Liam Finn, Department of Civil Engineering, UBC

The earthquake mechanisms causing earthquakes that affect the Lower Mainland and Victoria and the different kinds of shaking they cause will be described and their effects explained. Two factors that greatly increase the damage from earthquakes are liquefaction and soft ground conditions.  Their effects will be illustrated.  Liquefaction is a major threat in Richmond. Liquefaction occurrence will be explained and procedures for dealing with it presented.


Liam Finn was Professor of Civil Engineering at UBC from 1961-1999 and Anabuki Research Professor of Foundation Geodynamics, Kagawa University, Japan and Seismic Consultant to Anabuki Construction Company, Japan,2000-2005. He is an international consultant in geotechnical earthquake engineering and has published over 350 papers and many reports.  He has carried out seismic safety evaluations on 20 major dams and seismic studies on offshore platforms and pipelines. He is an Honorary International Member of the Japanese Geotechnical Society and the Chinese Soil Dynamics Society and is Honorary Professor of the Institute of Building Construction in Beijing.  He is a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge and a Fellow of the Engineering Institute of Canada. In 2005 he presented the 10th Mallet- Milne Lecture, “A Study of Piles during Earthquakes: Issues of Design and Analysis” presented to ICE, London, UK. From1999– 2005, he was Chairman of TC-4, International Earthquake Engineering Committee of ISMGE.  In 2000-2001 he was a member of the committee which produced “Seismic Design Guidelines for Port Structures” for the International Navigation Association.  He was Editor in Chief, International Journal of Soil Dynamics and Earthquake Engineering from2000-2008.  Since 1980 he has been a member of the committee responsible for the seismic provisions of the National Building Code of Canada.  From 2007 he has been a member of the Technical Review Board for the Seismic Retrofit of BC Schools.




Abstract (Ready for Surprises: Thoughts On Earthquake Preparedness, Human Security and Our Strange New World)
Dr. Kurt Grimm, Department of Earth & Ocean Sciences, UBC

In this presentation, I will sketch a context for emergency preparedness and disaster mitigation that moves to particular exploratory recommendations. My work is informed by practical experience as an emergency responder, scholarship in the phenomenology of complex adaptive phenomena, innovation in transformative sustainability learning, and multifaceted participation in emergency planning-administration at UBC. Fundamental problems and immense opportunities exist inside our “Living Lab.”

Top-down governance, technology-intensive response-planning and centralized resourcing follow and perpetuate institutional momentum. These networked infrastructures possess numerous brittle points and are susceptible to cascading failure. Attention to disasters and societal dislocations elsewhere suggests that top-down, technology-intensive approaches are expensive and insufficient.  

Institutional aversion towards bold examination of genuine vulnerabilities may parallel human preferences for comfort and perception of probable continuity. Human history is littered with the problematic consequences that commonly result. Institutional governance, including mixed priorities of a new organizational model termed enterprise risk management, may propel efficient and comprehensive changes, provided that innovation and experimentation are extended well beyond the status quo. Given immense public risks, the scope of consultation and accountability warrants clarification, and perhaps innovation.

On our 21st-century urban socioplanet, bizzy, dislocated and fragmented lifestyles/workstyles are accelerating. Each of us struggles to manage a societally-directed tsunami of information and choices. Societal cohesion atrophies in many sectors; economic and cultural gulfs are widening, uncertainty is innoculating and cross-catalyzing. The emergence of novelty across a broad spectrum—flash mobs and unique economic turbulence, emerging food insecurity and guerrilla gardens—suggest proximity of a dramatic phase transition in planetary civilization. The probability of an immense dislocation in the functionality of civilization in the coming several months to years is greater than zero.

UBC is pioneering 21st century sustainability and global citizenship. Core practices in our Living Lab include participatory process, social marketing, learning communities, distributed resourcing, capacity building and the convergence of traditional academia with entrepreneurship. Dr. John Robinson — in the context of sustainability culture coevolving with new technologies—is pioneering efforts to transform “occupants to inhabitants” in university buildings. Ready For Surprises has comparable goals for operational robustness and disaster resilience.

Dr. Kurt Grimm is an associate professor in the Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences at the University of British Columbia. From my foundations in Earth systems science and applied ecology, I am specifically interested in the origins of patterning in the real world: Complexity is not complicated. Topics of interest include dynamical self-organization, environmental and planetary Earth sciences, transformative sustainability learning and A Unified Description of Life (AUDOL). Conceptual and teaching innovations arising inform Life, health, climate and sustainability sciences. We need to learn to expect surprises.


Abstract (Emergency Preparedness at UBC)

Calvin Cheung, Emergency and Continuity Planner, UBC Risk Management Services


 Calvin Cheung is the Emergency and Continuity Planner for Risk Management Services. He earned his Bachelors of Applied Science degree in Bio-Resource Engineering from the University of British Columbia and is a registered engineer under the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC (APEGBC). He has extensive technical background relating to occupational health and safety, contaminated site investigation, hazardous waste management, and a focus on emergency management. His responsibility lies within the development and implementation of RMS safety programs including emergency and continuity planning across the University campus. Management of the University’s Disaster Response Plan and Emergency Operations Centre are also key roles. As one of the instructors of RMS, Calvin provides training to University faculty, staff and students. Courses include, Emergency Preparedness training, Floor Warden / Fire Extinguisher training, Emergency and Fire Plan Preparation, and other subjects related to emergency preparedness. Calvin is a member on the University’s Emergency Planning Steering Committee (EPSC), Emergency Communications Sub Committee (ECSC), Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) and Continuity Planning (CP) Working Committee, and the Regional Emergency Planning Committee (REPC).

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