This site was developed with support from the Federal Emergency Management Agency

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What is mitigation?

Earthquake hazard mitigation involves protecting the built environment — and the people who live there — against earthquake damages. That can take many forms such as; designing and constructing new buildings and systems to resist earthquake shaking; strengthening existing structures; or avoiding building in certain hazardous areas. Earthquake-resistant structures and systems reduce direct damages, decrease deaths and injuries, and help avoid associated negative economic and social consequences. Earthquake hazard mitigation also involves educating people: those who will be economically and socially affected by earthquake damages, and those who can beneficially change public policy or institutional practices-at a local, regional, or national level.

In the last 50 years, engineers and scientists have made great progress in understanding how and why structures are damaged during earthquakes and in developing ways to reduce or avoid those damages. However, this information has not made it into the hands of the people who need it -homeowners, educators, building design professionals, business executives, emergency managers, community planners, and elected officials. Our goal as Mitigation Center is to promote safe environments in which people can live and work without being unduly affected by natural and technological disasters.

It has been demonstrated that it costs less to reduce potential damages before they happen than to pay to repair them afterwards. In regions of high seismic vulnerability, it is good policy to construct seismic resistant facilities, with great structural designs, building materials, construction practices, and retrofit vulnerable existing structures. Mitigation can provide higher benefits with lower financial loss.

The financial burdens that result from earthquake damages are borne by individuals, businesses, communities, state and federal governments, which by mitigation we can reduce potential losses. Yet in many places, this is not routinely done, for many social, economic, and political reasons. Some of the information presented here will help Mitigation Center users understand obstacles in their own communities and work around them to reduce earthquake losses.

How to use this site?

The resources of the Mitigation Center are found in six broad categories:

  • Policy and Regulations (Codes, Incentives, Insurance, Planning)
  • Structures (Retrofit, Nonstructural, Steel, Timber, Concrete, Masonry)
  • Lifelines
  • Educational Materials (Residents, Students, Businesses)
  • Developing Countries
  • Case Studies (Best Practices, Earthquake Scenarios)

Alternatively, you can browse by audience or by using the Advanced search bar on the top right corner by typing keywords of your interest.

Some resources are also available in Spanish.