Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Brady Cox’s career in civil engineering and earthquake engineering has taken him all over the world in the past 20 years. He’s traveled from Utah to places like New Zealand, Turkey, Peru, Japan and Haiti studying earthquake damage and doing earthquake reconnaissance.

“(I) Always kind of had that thought that I would like to return to Utah and try and do more for the citizens of Utah — for my home state — to encourage better earthquake preparedness in terms of engineering design and construction,” said Cox.

Two and a half years ago, Cox returned to his home state, where he now works as a professor of civil engineering at Utah State University and serves as a leading earthquake expert.

Immediately after his return, Cox started encouraging Utah, the most seismically hazardous state without an earthquake engineering research center, to form one.

“My goal was to get this center started so that we could bring focus to our engineering efforts to prepare our infrastructure for a large and damaging earthquake,” Cox said.

Now, nearly three years after a 5.7 magnitude earthquake centered in Magna that was felt widely across the Wasatch Front, Cox talked with about the issue of earthquakes in Utah, as well as the upcoming launch of the Utah Earthquake Engineering Center.

Utah’s earthquake vulnerability

Cox was set to return to Utah when the Magna earthquake hit, something he said solidified his decision to push for the center.

“Even though it was relatively small in terms of engineering consequences, it still caused about $600 million worth of damage and really revealed some weaknesses that we need to address before we have a big earthquake,” Cox said.

The brunt of the damage was taken on by the over 150,000 unreinforced masonry buildings that sit in Utah — a total five-and-a-half times higher than that of California.

To further compound the issues, Cox said that these buildings are the predominant cause of death in “most” earthquakes.

“We have a huge problem with unreinforced masonry structures in the state,” Cox said.

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Source:: Deseret News – Utah News


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