Utah’s beauty comes with a price – or does it?
Natural forces, over time, have moved and shifted Utah’s landscape into majestic mountains and scenic valleys; yet, they are also the source of serious seismic activity, hazards, and risks. The western edge of Utah’s Rocky Mountains is home to the 240-mile Wasatch Fault, the state’s urban corridor, and more than 2.5 million inhabitants.
Over the last 17 million years, the land displaced close to seven miles of slip and gave rise to towering mountains with the last big earthquake striking in 1934 (6.6 magnitude), according to University of Utah Seismograph Stations. This Faultline has distinct segments which move independently and have separate earthquake events – each with its own unique story to tell. Historically, one of the central segments emits a major earthquake (6.5 – 7.5 magnitude) every 300 to 350 years and underlies the most highly concentrated populations in Utah. Roughly 700 earthquakes and aftershocks shake the Utah population every year with the most recent major event (M 7 and 10’ ground surface displacement – UGS) occurring 500 years ago and may lead to a tectonic itch that must be scratched.
Not helping matters, the Salt Lake Valley is an ancient sea bed meaning softer sediments comprise the soil and amplify seismic waves much like a metachronal rhythmic wave in a football stadium or concert arena – fun only if you are a willing participant.
And not widely known, more than 200 large fault lines reside in Utah traversing across the state from north to south and heavily concentrated in the western half. Since we haven’t recently experienced a large event, developers, builders, and master planners look across the globe to see the consequences of sacrificing structural elements to these serious forces of nature.
In 2011, Christchurch, New Zealand, experienced a magnitude 6.3 quake killing 185 people, injuring several thousand, and damaging one-third of its buildings. While few structures collapsed, many code-compliant buildings were damaged beyond repair.
People living along the Wasatch Front or other high-seismic areas of the world get excited about, and truly appreciate, innovation and improvements in structural stability, repairability, resiliency, and simplicity.
While building projects continue to pop-up all over Utah, there is a higher concentration along the Wasatch Faultline. Luckily, Utah is also home to several high-tech companies with the some of the brightest minds on the planet.
Now, a new seismic resiliency company has been born: DuraFuse Frames – an innovative moment frame system which allows for large span layouts (popular among architects), fast construction (popular among owners and developers), braced-free steel frames (popular among occupants), and prevents beam and column damage during severe earthquakes (popular among everyone who wants to survive). Research and development beginning in 2014 and culminating with full-scale earthquake simulation and vibration testing confirms this patented technology creates structures with higher resiliency. Resilient buildings mean resilient businesses, resilient communities, and peace of mind.
DuraFuse Frames have a shear-yielding fuse plate connection system that is simple to incorporate, fast to install, and commercially competitive. With code approvals obtained in March, 2019, and building projects underway, high earthquake hazard no longer needs to equal high risk.
The Enterprise – Utah’s Business Journal | April 29, 2019
Patricia Johnson | Vice President, Marketing
Patricia holds a triple major Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Communications, Political Science, and English. Patricia is responsible for marketing, public relations, and community outreach.