Laboratory damage from Japan earthquake

So what happens when a magnitude 9.0 earthquake strikes 80 miles away from your lab?

Yes, that fume hood was in fact torn from the wall. Credit: Masahiro Terada/Tohoku University

Note the bent pipe to the left from the sink being pushed out. Credit: Takahito Watanabe/Tohoku University

And this is in a country with what are likely the most stringent earthquake codes in the world:

Japan has gone much further than the United States in outfitting new buildings with advanced devices called base isolation pads and energy dissipation units to dampen the ground’s shaking during an earthquake.

The isolation devices are essentially giant rubber-and-steel pads that are installed at the very bottom of the excavation for a building, which then simply sits on top of the pads. The dissipation units are built into a building’s structural skeleton. They are hydraulic cylinders that elongate and contract as the building sways, sapping the motion of energy.

More photos from Tohoku University accompany today’s C&EN news story: Japan Fights for its Rising Sun.

Author: Jyllian Kemsley

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  1. Two weeks ago I realized that none of the shelves in our undergraduate labs have ledges. Seeing these photos has made me realize that the problem is even bigger. We need to do substantial upgrades in the very near future…

  2. What happened in Japan makes authorities in the world re-evaluate their present policy. Base isolation pads and energy dissipation units in Japan developed in order to dampen the ground’s shaking during an earthquake were definitely of use. However their inadequacy shows so much and shall be a warning for other states which lag behind in responsible attitude towards against-earthquake policy.