If the country is hit by an earthquake, the houses in the south are at a higher risk of suffering more damage. This is according to the findings of a six-year project on the evaluation and mitigation of seismic risk for composite masonry buildings in Bhutan. The project is recommending households in the south to construct houses based on the newly developed construction manual.
According to the findings, one of the main reasons for the southern region being at the highest risk is because the depth to the main Himalayan Thrust from the surface is shallow in the south and increases as one move north. The main Himalayan Thrust is formed due to the Indian sub-continent submerging under the Himalayas.
“One of the main results of the project is the seismic hazard map which provides information on the earthquake-prone areas in Bhutan including the rate of intensity. In the future, we plan to establish a Research Institute of Traditional Structures to carry out further research activities,” said Kunzang Tenzin, the Deputy Executive Engineer of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Past earthquakes have caused significant damage to both life and properties. According to data from the Department of Disaster Management, the earthquake in 2009 claimed 12 lives and damaged close to 5,000 rural homes. Similarly, the earthquake in 2011 killed one person and damaged close to 7,000 homes in rural areas.
So, to provide measures against such events in future, the project gathered data and results from various experiments and studies to understand the seismic performance of traditional buildings.
Besides, establishing research institutes, the project plans to disseminate information regarding seismic resilient construction in both urban and rural areas. The project also plans to incorporate construction manuals for stone masonry and rammed earth houses in the Bhutan Building Regulation for seismic resilient construction in the country.