A collapsed bridge over the Claro river is seen near the town of Camarico, Chile, some 112 miles ( 180 kilometers ) south of Santiago Saturday Feb. 27, 2010.
Engineers from the University of California, Berkeley, are headed to Chile.
They will be part of a team of experts who will document the effects of last month's 8.8 earthquake and in turn hope to ready California for future earthquakes.
"It is critical that we collect field observations soon after such an extreme event because the data we are seeking are perishable," said Professor Jonathan Bray. "What we find in Chile will have implications for Northern California, Oregon and Washington because there is a similar mega-thrust fault off the coast of the Pacific Northwest."
Teams will collect soil samples to try to figure out how geologic conditions, such as liquefaction, ground settlement, and landslides influenced the damage to key infrastructures like dams, ports, mines and levees.
The conclusions are important to understand how the ground conditions influenced damage patterns.
"U.S. engineers are particularly interested in examining how Chilean structures performed in the quake because modern buildings there were built using the American Concrete Institute's seismic building code provisions," said Professor Jack Moehle, who has conducted regular trips to Chile for research, last visiting the country in mid-January. "There will be important lessons we can learn that will be directly applicable to structures here in California and elsewhere in the United States."
The teams leave this week and will be in Chile for at least a couple weeks.