There are plenty of discoveries to be made in earthquake science. Predicting earthquakes and tsunamis, the Holy Grail of seismology, attracts top talent to that field. Stay tuned; breakthroughs are sure to come. Fortunately, designing and building safer structures to withstand the deadliest earthquakes is no mystery. Using what we know can save lives and protect property right now.
I was excited to be part of the team that developed the conceptual design for a Tsunami Evacuation Building that would replace the current City Hall in Cannon Beach, Oregon. That building will feature reinforced concrete columns with lots of open space to allow water to flow through, a deep robust foundation anchored extra-deep in the ground to handle scouring by waves, steel cables under tension to help the structure resist and recover from swaying, and wide stairs to a sturdy rooftop patio. These are methods common in the engineering of bridges, skyscrapers, and other structures designed to flex and move, but they are not commonly combined in structures close to sea level.
Architect Jay Raskin, former Mayor of Cannon Beach and co-leader of the TEB effort, says, "As we increasingly understand the risks of the Cascadia earthquake and tsunami, we must apply that knowledge to protect our residents and visitors. The new City Hall/TEB will provide a safe haven for those unable to reach high ground in time and will help the City lead relief and recovery efforts following the disaster."