Designing a Quake-Resistant Building Starts at the Soil

Posted by admin on April 25th, 2011 at 02:15pm

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

This is the VOA Special English Technology Report.

Builders in developing countries are often not required to build strong buildings. So, when a disaster strikes, the damage is often widespread.

Yet Japan is one of the most developed countries in the world. Still, the March eleventh earthquake and tsunami waves destroyed more than fourteen thousand buildings.

Brady Cox is an assistant professor of civil engineering at the University of Arkansas. He is also an earthquake expert with an organization called Geotechnical Extreme Events Reconnaissance, or GEER. The group studies major disasters.

Professor Cox says Japan has one of the best building-code systems in the world.

BRADY COX: “The problem is this earthquake was just a mammoth earthquake, one of the, you know, top five earthquakes in recorded history. So anytime you have an earthquake that large, you are going to have damage.”

The quake measured magnitude nine.

BRADY COX: “One thing I think a lot of people don’t understand is that building codes are meant to prevent loss of life in earthquakes, that doesn’t mean that the buildings won’t — or bridges for that matter, or anything — won’t sustain significant damage.”

Mr. Cox says Japan has invested a lot in seismic research and design since a magnitude 7.5 earthquake in Niigata in nineteen sixty-four. That same year a 9.2 quake shook the American state of Alaska.

BRADY COX: “Those two earthquakes really opened up a lot of new research on something called soil liquefaction, in particular. And, you know, the Japanese, they have more earthquakes greater than magnitude six or seven than probably any other country in the world. I mean, they get hit a lot.”

Soil liquefaction is the process by which the strength or stiffness of soil is weakened by an event like the shaking of an earthquake. The soil begins to move like liquid.

Professor Cox says the first step to designing an earthquake-resistant building is to study the soil.

BRADY COX: “Then the structural engineers take that information and they use it to detail the building in terms of, is this going to be a steel structure? Is it going to be reinforced concrete? And then you get into all kinds of things in terms of the designs of the columns and the beams and the framing of the building and the connections. And how much steel do you put in?”

A team from Geotechnical Extreme Events Reconnaissance is planning a trip to Japan to examine the destruction. Mr. Cox and other members of GEER went to Haiti after the powerful earthquake last year, and continue to work with Haitian officials.

BRADY COX: “A lot of the work that we’ve been doing has been focusing on the rebuilding effort and how to especially make sure that the rebuilding of schools and hospitals, and kind of critical facilities that you would need to respond to an emergency — police and fire stations, government buildings — that those things get rebuilt appropriately.”

And that’s the VOA Special English Technology Report, written by June Simms. I’m Christopher Cruise.

Tags: ,

Under Technology Report


  • 1. Le Quynh Hoa  |  April 25th, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    Quake- resistant building design is something we must do now to protect us- not only in Japan but also all over the work. We, people, have been destroying the environment so from now on we have to face with the nature’s anger anytime, anywhere.

  • 2. hong huong  |  April 25th, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    disater in japan is not only a natural law, but also a warn message to all of person who are living in this planet. In the past, we have detroyed environment with only one cause, that is the insatiable greed. Do not care influence! So, today, when envirenment can’t stand anymore, it have to against. We dont blame for destiny, we should reconsider we done anything for envirenment to it treat us like so that. If we are it, we would also act like it have been doing. It time to change, to build a friendship envirenment, to make friends with it.

  • 3. hieu  |  April 25th, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    disaster have just happened in distroyed more than fourteen thounsand demonstrated that building is verry important when we begin build it .because if we build buildings have to ensure about good foundation ,material when natural disaster happen it will reduce measure demage about asset ,

  • 4. Nguyen Trinh  |  April 25th, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    Earthquake and tsunami in Japan was one of the biggest the disater in the world that they ever recorded so it effected to not only Japan but also all over the world. It will slow down the recovery of world economics. But it is not human fail. That earthquake occured mainly by Pacific plate thrusts under the north Amecian Plate and Japan sits on the notht tip of north American Plate. In this area known as Japanes trench, the Pacific plate usally moves 8 cm a year to the north Amecian plate. The earthquake was the result of thrust fault, a violent moveement of the Pacific plate compressing underearth the North American Plate forcing it upwards.The upward of that plate will release larg amounts of energy and displace vast amounts of ocean water causing tsunami.So pls. do not blame for human, it was really natural disaster! We are here to learn about how to reduce the damage of it, we can not do against it.

  • 5. huong thi pham  |  April 26th, 2011 at 9:42 am

    Image a strong earth quake which strikes HCM Ciy. What will happen? Many buildings have been set up in HCM City without reckoning the quake-resistant ability.Heavy damage is the unavoidable thing.Starting to study soil before building to reduce partly damage from quakes is the necessary thing ,which must be done as soon as possible.Vietnam lies on the Pacific Ocean belt, risk of earth quakes is very high.We should have done this long before, it is so late compared to other countries in the region. Being late,but it is still better than nothing to be done to protect people’s life and property who live in these buildings.

  • 6. amazuki  |  April 26th, 2011 at 10:41 am

    I think that the earthquake are always accompanied with tsunami waves and significant shaking. We can prevent our building against tremor but No way to afford against tsunami. As we can see from some earthquake video the buildings were very slightly designed but they were washed away easily. The best way we should find out the methods to predict exactly when the earthquake come out and warn for all people to move. We also build the earthquake-resistant building and research new way for effective forecast.

  • 7. kimoanh  |  April 26th, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    Japanese just overpass earthquake and tsunami. It has destroy house and road hard. I think that Japan will overcome and build country.

  • 8. Trang  |  April 26th, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    I think we should have as many quake-resistant building as possible because in the near future there are going to have more disasters than now including earthquake, tsunami, vocanic eruption… Vietnam is going to be affected by those disasters. Hanoi shook on 24 March. This is an aftershock from a magnitude 7 earthquake in Myanmar. Let’s imagine once day, hanoi was striken by an earthquake like that. Many people will die, many building will be destroyed. therefore, at the moment we need to design a Quake- Resistant Building Starts at the soil.

  • 9. hung  |  April 27th, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Good morning!
    Nowadays, every countries on the world is facing very many nature disasters and some countries have been devastated by them, such as Japan, Haiti, Thailand, American, and Vietnam, ext…
    Technologies and inventions have given to prevent the damage of the nature disasters at the moment. In which, the building code systems have applied a principle of the soil to prevent earthquakes. However, these just can bear earthquakes have magnitude less seven. So, i disagree to a point that is the best building codes can prevent loss of life in the earthquake.
    It can be seen easily, an earthquake measured magnitude more nine which have devastated Japan very seriously. Besides, sciences have researched the principle of the soil to design them and they showed that these just can bear earthquakes had the limited magnitude.
    However, we should not think that these do not have usefully to prevent the damage of earthquakes or tsunami waves, mainly because most earthquakes had magnitude small. In future, we must invest money, knowledge and time to continue studying the building codes more well might bear earthquakes have magnitude taller.
    To cut a long story short, nature disasters have the extreme damage, so there is a war between us and nature and this war will not end. Therefore, people need to study technologies new against them.
    Good bye!
    See you again report later!
    Have a nice day!

  • 10. pavel6490  |  April 29th, 2011 at 6:00 am

    “Image a strong earth quake which strikes HCM Ciy” almost can’t happen:)) I think Vietnam should research how to build flood-resistant buildings. It’s more necessary in Vietnam

  • 11. Hy  |  April 29th, 2011 at 9:16 am

    Researching and designing a quake-resistant Building is very important and real goal for builder scientist ,after what we had seen on eleventh of March in Japan .Fourteen thousand buildings were destroyed and about nearly thirty thousand people`s lives were loss .This numbers of damaging and lossing are too large.
    What happened in Japan is great lesson for all countries and Vietnam to.The Designing a quake resistant building is very newly in Vietnam,because they thought that Vietnam is not lying in more earhtquakeable zone .It may be a disastrous mistake they had founded.

  • 12. Đồng Minh Hưng  |  May 19th, 2011 at 8:57 am

    The earthquake and tusami in Japan is really damage in the world. It killed and miss many people. Janpan have invested and reseached the soil and the meterial. But they are destroy when the tsunami waved. I think the technical in the world need to reseach the tsunami and earthquake. And announced the people in the nation. The nature are change and people need have the measure coped the damage

Luyện nghe tiếng Anh Facebook

Subscribe via Email

subscribe English lesson

Enter your email address:



Luyện nghe tiếng Anh online là website luyện nghe tiếng Anh online miễn phí qua VOA. Bạn có thể chọn bài nghe theo từng chủ đề, nghe hàng ngày giúp nâng cao kỹ năng nghe tiếng Anh của bạn. Chúc kỹ năng nghe tiếng Anh của bạn ngày càng tốt hơn!