Mobile Storage and Earthquake Proof Design Considerations

Mobile Storage and Earthquake Proof Design Considerations

If you’ve ever experienced an earthquake—even a minor one—you most likely have an appreciation of the earth’s force and power. A result of the sudden release of energy in the Earth’s crust, an earthquake can be mostly imperceptible or can cause very serious damage, depending on the amount of energy it releases.

According to an article in Live Science, there are about 500,000 earthquakes per year around the world. At the time of this blog post, a quick look at the United States Geological Society website reveals 52 earthquakes that had occurred over the previous day with a magnitude of 2.5 or more, with eight significant earthquakes (4.3 or more) occurring in the past 30 days. All 50 states and territories are at some risk for earthquakes—and they can happen at any time of year.

As you might expect, structural engineers have long been concerned with the idea of earthquake proof design for buildings, but it might surprise you to learn that there’s a fair amount of work being done to limit the harm caused by falling architectural, mechanical, electrical, and other non-structural components within a building as well. In fact, limiting this kind of harm is one of the goals of both the The International Building Code (IBC) and The National Building Code of Canada.

Storage systems are generally considered to have the same seismic design category as that of the structure they occupy or to which they are attached. When evaluating seismic activity, the most important part of a storage system is the rail.

Spacesaver’s Seismic B Anti-Tip (BAT) rail provides the structural strength and support mobile storage systems require in the case of a seismic event. The rail is compatible with all Spacesaver powered, mechanical-assist, and manual carriages and utilizes dual-flanged guidance systems and dual-flanged anti-tip brackets.

Thanks to the BAT rail, tests conducted by the University of Nevada-Reno Large Scale Structures Laboratory, a premier seismic simulation facility, have demonstrated that Spacesaver High-Density mobile system meet the strictest seismic requirements.

States like California and Alaska might be the most seismically active regions in the United States, but other areas are looking to reinforce their buildings—and the items in them—for potential earthquakes. At the new Salt Lake City Public Safety building in Salt Lake City, Utah, Spacesaver mobile storage systems are used throughout the space.

Deputy Chief Tim Doubt says they worked with a local architecture and firm to design the building to withstand a 7.5 magnitude earthquake. “We worked with Spacesaver collaboratively to place mobile systems around the struts that keep the building stable,” he says. “So, we won’t lose power or services—and we’ll be able to operate through the earthquake as well as after it.”

If you’re a structural engineer or architect looking for a storage solution that can complement an earthquake proof design, we can help. Contact a Spacesaver Storage Specialist today!

A few interesting facts about earthquakes and seismic activity:

  • Alaska is the most “earthquake-prone” state in the United States and one of the most seismically active regions in the world. Alaska experiences a 7.0 magnitude earthquake almost every year, and an 8.0 magnitude or greater an average of every 14 years.
  • Florida and North Dakota have the smallest number of earthquakes in the United States.
  • Each year, the Southern California area has about 10,000 earthquakes. Most of them are so small they are not felt—only several hundred are greater than a 3.0 magnitude, and 15-20 of those are greater than a 4.0 magnitude.
  • The largest recorded earthquake in the United States was a 9.2 magnitude and occurred in the Prince William Sound area of Alaska on Good Friday, March 28, 1964.