Alexandria, Va. - On a muggy day in mid-July 2009, a lone seven-story condominium complex northwest of Kobe, Japan, was violently shaken by an earthquake. Onlookers watched the 23-unit, wood-frame tower sway and bounce while, inside the building, furniture toppled and plates clattered to the floor. No one was hurt during the highly localized event and there was only minimal damage, in part because the building's wooden skeleton had been augmented to better resist earthquake shaking, but also because the whole event -- from the seismicity to the partially furnished building -- was just a test.
It was the largest seismic experiment ever conducted on a full-size building, and it was carried out on the world's biggest earthquake-simulating shake table. Several other research facilities also have their own large shake tables, on which engineers are constructing and shaking full-size buildings to learn how to make them safer during earthquakes.
Learn more about the massive shake tables that make full-scale seismic testing a reality in the May issue of EARTH Magazine: http://bit.
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The American Geosciences Institute is a nonprofit federation of 50 geoscientific and professional associations that represents more than 250,000 geologists, geophysicists and other earth scientists. Founded in 1948, AGI provides information services to geoscientists, serves as a voice of shared interests in the profession, plays a major role in strengthening geoscience education, and strives to increase public awareness of the vital role the geosciences play in society's use of resources, resiliency to natural hazards, and interaction with the environment.