Seismic engineers head to NZ for quake aftermath

A car damaged by rubble from a building is seen following a 7.4-magnitude earthquake in central Christchurch, New Zealand, early Saturday, Sept. 4, 2010. A powerful 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck much of New Zealand's South Island early Saturday. No tsunami alert was issued and there were no reports of injuries, but looters broke into some damaged shops in Christchurch, police said. (AP Photo/NZPA, David Alexander)

March 3, 2011 4:12:25 PM PST
Seismic engineers from San Francisco and Oakland are traveling to New Zealand to examine the buildings damaged or destroyed in the deadly, 6.3 magnitude earthquake.

Degenkolb engineers has assembled a six-member team to survey the damage and examine the buildings in an effort to understand what caused some structures to crumble and others to survive the quake. Engineers plan to use their findings to improve construction and building codes in high seismic zones.

"We can see what does well and what does poorly. We're involved in code writing so we can influence the building codes here in California and the US to make them better for earthquake resistance and we do a lot of retrofit of old buildings," Degenkolb Senior Principal Loring Wylliesaid.

Wyllie says this trip will be an especially helpful opportunity because New Zealand and California have very similar building codes.