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Rock Street, San Francisco


The claim above represents the thought that the construction industry would crumble without rocks. Igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks are the 3 types of rocks on earth. Igneous rocks are formed when lava or magma cools on the surface of the earth or below the surface. This type of rock is very hard to break. Metamorphic rocks are formed below the earth’s surface when rocks are pushed down into ground. The rock is put under intense pressure and heat. The rock doesn’t melt because of the heat but simply forms into a new rock. The sedimentary type is formed when rocks are weathered away usually by water, ice and wind into an area where they dry out, cement and compact with other grains or rocks to create a new rock such as clay. (Wheeling Jesuit University 2017)

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Although materials such as brick and concrete are a strong and sturdy building material, it is evident that steel and reinforced concrete are more reliable when building earthquake proof structures. ‘Steel is by far the most widely used material for building earthquake resistant buildings’, (The Steel Wire by Posco 2017). This statement is proven as steel can take a large amount of tension before breaking which makes a reliable material when building earthquake proof structures. Reinforced concrete is a manmade sedimentary rock that is like concrete but instead has steel bars embedded into it creating a concrete that can take tension before falling apart. In areas such as Japan they must apply different techniques and use materials like reinforced concrete and steel when building large earth quake proof structures to prevent injury or death. Hence why the construction industry would crumble without rocks.

Analysis and interpretation

What are steel and reinforced concrete made of

‘Steel is made up of over 90% iron ore and less than 10% carbon.’ (Iron Ore Facts 2015). These ingredients are sedimentary rocks and make steel a sturdy material in earthquake proof buildings. Reinforced concrete is another widely used material when building in earthquake zones and ‘this type of concrete is made of aggregate, sand, cement and water.’ (V. Ryan © 2010) Aggregate is generally made of crushed limestone, gravel or granite. Limestone is a bio chemical sedimentary rock meaning it is made of marine fossils. Gravel is the crushed form of any type of rock. ( Granite is an intrusive igneous rock and comes in the colours of white pink and grey. Reinforced concrete also contains steel bars which make it able to take immense amounts of tension.

The uses of steel and reinforced concrete in the construction industry.

‘Steel is used in nearly every industry in the world and It is the most widely used and most-recycled metal material in the world’, (Reference 2018). Steel is used in earthquake resistant buildings as it can take large amounts pressure and tension before finally snapping or breaking. When a building is struck by an earthquake the structure falls apart because of the sideways motion of the earthquake and not the vertical motion. Steel is used by engineers as it can withstand the sideways motion. Reinforced concrete is used in ground floors, pavements and can be used in a wide range of construction parts. Reinforced concrete is strong and can withstand lots of pressure before breaking. Although reinforced concrete isn’t as good as withstanding pressure than steel, it is much stronger and can take large amounts of vertical motion before falling apart. Because reinforced concrete has steel bars embedded into it can withstand some sideways motion before breaking.

Properties of steel and reinforced concrete that make is useful

The properties of steel and reinforced concrete that make it useful are that they can take tension and pressure which has been proved useful in other areas of construction. ‘Steel can withstand winds of up to 170 mph winds’, (Buildings Guide 2018). Making it useful for areas along the coastline with high winds. Reinforced concrete is strong and can be bent because of the steel bars imbedded into it and for this reason it is used in earthquake-proof buildings as bases, foundations and other construction parts. This is shown in Diagram 1 below. The only downside of steel is that it can rust and is dangerous if someone gets cut with the rusty part of it as infections such as Tetanus can occur. (E Notes 2018)

Diagram 1 Reinforced concrete and how it works

Steel and Reinforced concrete in the future

Steel in the future is going to be used in 3D printing. Some things they are expected to make are parts for cars such as door hinges, brake pedals and parts of windshields. “The advantage of having high-strength steel pillars of today’s convertibles, is that it doesn’t buckle in the event of a rollover”, (Porsche 2018). Reinforced concrete is expected to have higher demand in the future because of its quality compared to ordinary concrete and in 2013 Disa International claimed that there are no underwater jobs that they can’t fulfil due to the use of reinforced concrete. From large amounts of research on steel and reinforced concrete there is no evidence of any other materials being better when it comes to building earthquake-proof structures.

Evaluation and conclusion

From extensive research it can be concluded that steel and reinforced concrete derived from sedimentary rocks are the most favourable material when building in earthquake areas. In addition, reinforced concrete is made of aggregate which includes gravel and granite. Gravel is crushed rock and can be made of almost any type of rock which includes igneous or metamorphic and granite is an igneous rock. But this only counts for a small amount of reinforced concrete meaning sedimentary rocks are still the most used material. If the construction industry didn’t have sedimentary rocks to build earthquake-proof structures then the earthquake proof construction industry would quite literally crumble. If this task was to be researched again improvements that would be made were the in-text referencing and more research would be done in other areas such as San Francisco and Christchurch. Some of the websites used in the in-text referencing could not be the most reliable source such as and reference 2018.

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