Can houses in the UK withstand earthquakes

Protective measures against earthquake damage

There can and probably never will be complete protection against the effects of severe earthquakes. But by taking appropriate measures, it is possible to significantly reduce the damage and, above all, the number of deaths. This article provides information about the chances of getting there in time for dangerous earthquakes.

Earthquake-proof construction

Architects have a whole range of methods to counteract the destructive earth vibrations. Which measures are sensible and affordable depends in particular on the specific earthquake risk of a building site. The greater the risk, the higher the requirements. The basis of the European building regulations are the tremors, which according to statistical calculations are to be expected within 475 years. Even stricter standards apply to particularly sensitive and important buildings (such as hospitals).

For example, the plays a decisive role Underground of structures. More damage is to be expected with rocky material than with loose, sandy subsoil. So-called seismic insulation has a similar effect to an extremely soft foundation: the building rests on a special bearing or a rubber layer that hardly transfers any earth vibrations to the structure. The house then behaves similarly as if it were suspended from a pendulum.

On the one hand, architects construct "stiffness" Components that can passively defy the vibrations and on the other hand "Ductile" Steel skeletons that deform easily and thus absorb the energy. There are also other shock absorbers inside the building. The right mixture creates perfect earthquake protection.

High-tech protection in Japan

Japan is something like the motherland of earthquake protection. Many Japanese skyscrapers sway visibly back and forth during an earthquake. This is not a sign of an impending collapse, but a calculated earthquake protection. Compared to lower structures, reinforced concrete high-rise buildings can distribute the energy over a large structure and are therefore surprisingly safe.

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A High tech solution are computer-controlled devices that detect tremors and actively compensate for them by counter-movements. For poor earthquake-prone countries like Nepal, however, such methods are priceless. In most cases there is a lack of even the simplest protective measures. Multi-story buildings are still built today from bricks, which collapse like a house of cards in a medium to severe earthquake.

Tsunami protective walls

Protection against tsunamis is also vital for island and coastal states. Since the Second World War, many Japanese coastal towns in particular have built high protective walls against the giant waves. However, the earthquake and tsunami disaster of 2011 shows that most of the gigantic structures were planned too small. Even ten meter high walls were simply washed over by the waves.