Once only a concern on the west coast, seismic design is now implemented at data centers across the country. All seismic design decisions are engineered calculations to reduce the risk of a server rack falling during an earthquake.

So how does seismic design affect rack systems? Engineers must consider several factors when creating rack systems to safely withstand earthquakes, including location, ground movement, weight, and materials.


Even though the seismic design is applied to data centers all over the country, location still plays a role. Some regions are more prone to earthquakes than others, and building codes reflect their particular vulnerability. For example, the west coast is a hot spot, but so are regions located in the New Madrid Seismic Zone. This zone affects parts of the South and the Midwest.

Engineers also have to determine whether the subsoil and building floor are capable of supporting server racks.


Ground movement is measured to learn how much of a risk earthquakes pose to your facility. With this information, engineers decide how much distance is needed between each rack and how far the racks should be from high-traffic areas.


The seismic racks construction needs to be considerable enough to prevent a domino effect if an earthquake were to happen. High-density data centers will need more space and weight to avoid severe damage from occurring.


For high-risk regions, the materials anchor the server racks will need heavy gauge steel and larger baseplates. Typically, the baseplates need to be between 5 X 5 and 6 X 8 in size with 0.25 to 0.375 inches in thickness. Bolting the racks to the floor through the welded anchor plates is the preferred method for securing the racks.

Frame-bracing panels and beam connectors will add more support in case of any ground movement. Contact AMCO Enclosures for more information on selecting the correct server racks for your data center.