A Turkish widow, dressed from head to toe in black, stood near to the heap of fractured concrete and twisted reinforcement that had claimed the lives of her family. She saw the two English engineers who had come to examine the aftermath of the Kocaeli Earthquake and she had a question for them. In a quiet, slightly trembling voice she asked, "Neden?" - "Why?"
Her question is the same as that of the vast numbers of people who, in recent decades, have lost family and friends, homes and livelihoods, health and well-being to the destructive power of earthquakes. The question is deceptively simple - the answer is complex and multi-layered. But it is the right question. This conference forms part of the response.
Impressive advances have occurred in our understanding of the factors (technical and human) that determine the impact of seismic events. With the papers on this CD you will find developments in seismology and improvements in our understanding of site effects. The lessons of recent earthquakes are discussed leading to better understanding of vulnerability and improved mitigation strategies. The recent rapid strides in seismic code development are presented together with improved methods of structural analysis and testing. Novel techniques and applications for improving the earthquake resistance of structures and infrastructure are considered.
The more we know, the more we realise we have yet to understand. However, we can be sure that communities across Europe and our neighbours in other parts of the 'Global Village' will continue to be menaced by savage earthquakes. Our developing knowledge of earthquake science, engineering and mitigation brings with it responsibility. We each have a responsibility to redouble our efforts so that no longer will people with shattered lives have to ask, "Why?"
Dr Robert E May
Chairman of Conference Organising Committee
12th European Conference on Earthquake Engineering
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