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Japanese test world's biggest quake simulator

Researchers tested a huge quake simulator capable of jolting a six-storey building in a project that could help improve quake-resistant construction methods.

india Updated: Jan 14, 2006 08:55 IST

Japanese researchers tested a huge quake simulator capable of jolting a six-storey building in a project that could help improve earthquake-resistant construction methods.

The E-Defence simulator, with a 300-square-metre "shaking table" powered by 24 pistons, can jolt buildings up to 12,000 tons, according to the National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention, or NIED.

In Friday's experiment, the mammoth device jolted a 16-metre, six-storey condominium at velocities similar to those in the 7.2-magnitude quake that hit the western city of Kobe in 1995. That quake caused widespread structural damage and killed over 6,400 people.

Quake simulations involving life-sized structures help engineers assess structural damage in ways that aren't possible with models, NIED said.

"We can see buildings are very vulnerable to an earthquake like the one in Kobe," Toshimi Kabeyasawa, a professor at Tokyo University's Earth Quake Research Institute, told reporters after the simulation.

Earthquakes have always been a concern in Japan, located on four tectonic plates, and the country has built some of the world's most quake-proof buildings.

But a series of recent quakes, as well as a scandal involving an architect who falsified earthquake safety data for buildings across the country, has renewed anxieties over the ability of housing to resist temblors.

First Published: Jan 14, 2006 08:55 IST