Shaking Brownstones, Not

An interesting study on how brownstones would perform in an earthquake was posted recently on NBC Science. The study shows an unreinforced brick wall falling apart during a typical earthquake. In contrast, a reinforced brick wall remains standing. The only problem with the study is that the brownstones referred to were not typically made of brick. Those rowhouses in New York, and Boston and Philadelphia, got the name brownstone from the 200-million-year old sandstone used in many of the buildings. That stone, quarried most commonly in Portland, Connecticut, is a sandstone with a small amount of oxydized iron, which gives the rock its brown, or rusty color. (It’s the same type of rock that is found in southern Utah, where it’s known as red rock.) In addition, brownstone was often used as curtain wall, or a thin exterior material that served little structural purpose. Also, how often do earthquakes hit New York City? I am guessing that there is more to the study than reported on NBC but it does make me question its importance.

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