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Stress concentrations means that an undue proportion of the overall forces is concentrated at one or a few points of a building. Isolated elements such as a particular set of beams, a wall or several columns may be stressed beyond their design capacity and fail, and in doing so they may bring the whole building down in a chain reaction. Also, as forces tend to be attracted by 40 Natural Disasters Stress concentrations The most serious condition of vertical irregularity is the soft or weak storey, in which one storey, usually the first with taller, fewer columns, is significantly weaker or more flexible than the storeies above.

First mode Second mode Third mode Earthquakes 33 The initial ground motion is often amplified, depending on the nature of the soils and rocks of a given site. Soft soil can amplify the motion several times, as much as six times, and consequently earthquake damage tends to be more severe in areas of soft ground. Every object has a fundamental period at which it vibrates if set in motion. The ground also has a fundamental period of its own. If an object is set in motion by an external force such as the ground shaking, which would be at the fundamental period of the object, the result will be dissonance and the motion of the object will tend to increase.

Fundamental period Tall buildings undergo several types of vibration, of which the fundamental or first mode is the most significant. Whilst a stiff object, such as a bulky piece of furniture, will only vibrate in the first mode, a flexible object such as a tall building, will vibrate in a number of modes, which change direction at node points (see Fig. 10). Fig. 10 Vibration modes diagram. First mode Second mode Third mode Earthquakes 33 The initial ground motion is often amplified, depending on the nature of the soils and rocks of a given site.

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