Considerations on the seismic performance of pre-1970s RC buildings in the Christchurch CBD during the 4th Sept 2010 Canterbury earthquake: was that really a big one?
The 4th of September 2010 Mw 7.1 Darfield (Canterbury) earthquake had generated significant ground shaking within the Christchurch Central Business District (CBD). Despite the apparently significant shaking, the observed structural damage for pre-1970s reinforced concrete (RC) buildings was indeed limited and lower than what was expected for such typology of buildings. This paper explores analytically and qualitatively the different aspects of the "apparent‟ good seismic performance of the pre-1970s RC buildings in the Christchurch CBD, following the earthquake reconnaissance survey by the authors. Damage and building parameters survey result, based on a previously established inventory of building stock of these non-ductile RC buildings, is briefly reported. From an inventory of 75 buildings, one building was selected as a numerical case-study to correlate the observed damage with the non-linear analyses. The result shows that the pre-1970s RC frame buildings performed as expected given the intensity of the ground motion shaking during the Canterbury earthquake. Given the brittle nature of this type of structure, it was demonstrated that more significant structural damage and higher probability of collapse could occur when the buildings were subjected to alternative input signals with different frequency content and duration characteristics and still compatible to the seismicity hazard for Christchurch CBD.