The Himalayas are among the most earthquake-prone regions in the world. To assess earthquake-prone structures in the region, researchers at IIT-Mandi have built a visual-based method.

They say this method allows decision-makers to prioritise any strengthening and repair work to enhance the reinforced concrete (RC) building’s resistance to earthquakes.

The research was led by Dr Sandip Kumar Saha, assistant professor at the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and his research student Yati Aggarwal.

They have been analysing the vulnerable situation of the built environment in the Indian Himalayan region for the last five years or so.

The method developed is based on rapid visual screening (RVS) of buildings. The first step is to assess the current vulnerabilities and strengths of structures.

RVS uses visual information to decide if a building is safe to occupy and requires immediate engineering work for enhancing earthquake safety.

“This is not an entirely new technique. However, we have tried to improve the existing method by incorporating region-specific vulnerability features,” says  Dr Saha.

“In this, the building is visually screened within 15–20 minutes and different features that are expected to decrease or increase the performance of the building are noted,” he adds.

“The assessor should look into the presence of irregular features, such as heavy overhang, irregular plan shape, buildings configuration (building resting on flat land or slope), etc,” explains Yati.

“This method helps to segregate the buildings that require minor to significant engineering intervention which may include a minor maintenance or a major strengthening work,” notes Dr Saha.

While talking about the benefits of the research, Yati notes, “The proposed method is useful for segregating buildings in hilly regions as per the damage that they are expected to experience in the event of an earthquake.”