Japanese researchers conducted an earthquake simulation on a 10-storey concrete structure on 11 December, with the aim of improving earthquake management strategies. At 27.45m high, it is the tallest concrete building ever to be tested in an earthquake simulation.
Researchers at the National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention (NIED) said they used the largest "shake table" in Japan, measuring 15m by 20m, to subject the building to the equivalent of a 7.3 magnitude earthquake.
"There are many mid- and small-sized buildings built with reinforced concrete in Japanese urban areas and we wanted this experiment to help improve the earthquake resistance of those types of buildings," Yusuke Tosauchi, a researcher at NIED, said.
The 1000-tonne structure shook violently but remained standing, with the fourth floor sustaining the greatest amount of damage. Researchers found fallen debris and several cracks, with weaknesses concentrated around where the pillars meet the girders supporting the floor.
"We experimented with the strongest shake that was felt during the Kobe earthquake and the fact that we received this little damage to the building means that the current building regulations provide a high level of safety," said Kunio Fukuyama, Researcher of NIED. "At the same time, we need to recognise that damage did occur," he added.
NIED aims to use its research to implement disaster prevention measures in public institutions and increase preparedness for future earthquakes,
"We will investigate the damage caused by the earthquake so that the data can be used to improve construction technology of earthquake-resistant buildings," Tosauchi said.
The simulation took place at the E-Defence three-dimensional full-scale earthquake testing facility near Kobe which investigates why and how structures collapse. January 2015 marked the 20th anniversary of the Kobe earthquake in which more than 6,000 people were killed.