Friday, March 11, 2011

Japan's Earthquake Readiness

Here is an awesome video showing office towers swaying in Tokyo during the earthquake of March 11th, 2011:

Engineers in Japan design buildings so that they will sway sideways during the lateral motion of an earthquake to reduce stresses that would overwhelm a structure's integrity if the building were structurally stiff.  Having just visited Japan, it is amazing how many tall office buildings are located throughout Tokyo, particularly in Shinjuku where I stayed on the 43rd floor of a hotel.  

While no building is 100 percent earthquake-proof, engineers design buildings so that they will retain their structural integrity and allow their occupants to leave safely after an earthquake.  Engineers must also understand how the soil that contains the buildings foundation will act during an earthquake; during the shaking motion in the most recent earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, the earth liquified causing foundations to fail and building to topple. 

Having said all of that, it must be terribly frightening to see 50 story office towers swaying like trees in the wind!


  1. Good lord, I missed this video for Oye! Times.


  2. I think that I'd have to change my underwear if I looked out an upper floor office window and saw that!

  3. the silliest reaction to the Christchurch wuake is that the majority of locals want to rebuild on the same site, and to resurrect "heritage" buildings, mostly churches, built of local stone in Medieval styles. Well maybe 10 yr -old-styles, because it promotes tourism. They even think they can rebuild on the same site. Humans are surely idiots. At least we, NZ, thanks to a Labour government, are, and will always be, nuclear free. NO GOVERNMENT WILL DARE OVERTURN THIS HARD FOUGHT OBSTINANCY. Follow on the planet!! Cheers, k

  4. Engineers must also understand how the soil that contains the buildings foundation will act during an earthquake.