BR’s report – The History of Earthquake Safe Structures

Here is BR’s paper on the history of earthquake safe structures and the modern application of these principals. I was thoroughly impressed by his research.  He used multiple sources.  He asked for help.  He revised and revised.  He took correction well.  He didn’t rely on illustrations to carry the day.  Really great work on BR’s part.  I feel compelled to remind everyone that BR is nine.  This is beyond what would normally be expected of a child his age.

Earthquake Safe Structures

People build homes all over the world.  Often these homes are in areas where earthquakes are common.  These areas include the Pacific coast lines of South America, North America, Australia, Oceania, and Eastern Asia.  The Mediterranean Sea’s coasts, the Himalayan Mountain region, and the countries of South Eastern Asia are also areas where earthquakes happen commonly.

Historically people have discovered ways to protect their homes from extensive damage caused by earthquakes. In the Bible, Jesus tells a parable about the wise and foolish men.  In this parable, by a river long ago in Galilee, two men went out to make houses. Their names were John and Zebadee.  Zebadee wanted to build a house on the river’s shore – on sand. John saw a hill top that would be good for a house. They both built their homes. Then one night a big lightning storm came and there was lots of rain. It started to flood. The house on the sand “shook and fell with a loud crash.” Everybody was clutching onto debris to help them float. While John’s house on the bedrock wiggles and shakes but it stays. That means his house is earthquakes safe.

The Mayans made a pyramid, El Castillo. They designed it to be an earthquake safe structure. It is made of stone and is very wide at the base and narrow at the top.  It is also nearly solid blocks of stone.  Very small amounts of space (percentage wise) are used for rooms and passages.  The ancient Mayans believed that earthquakes are judgements from unhappy gods.

The Japanese learned that wood structures that have deep foundations  (ie: staking your house) help with stability.  Wood is better than brick because it is more flexible. There is a pagoda in japan. That has faced hundreds of earthquakes. It is over 500 years old. But it is still is standing. There are resins that it has stayed up this long and all these earthquakes. Because of it’s hight and they way it was built it moves with the earthquakes not against it. There is a thick column in the middle running top to bottom that architect’s think that it is helping a lot with stability.

The principals of the parable Jesus told is the first basic way to keep a structure safe. Never build your house on sand.  Because if an earthquake comes it could cause liquefaction and your house will sink.  The Mayans also taught us that the idea that a narrow base is a weak design idea.  They built wide based structures with narrow tops that were very solid to counteract the regional. Earthquakes. Japanese have faced a lot of earthquakes and damage. So they are trying to make more earthquakes safe buildings. They use the idea of a central beam structure and flexible joints in their building.

In modern times, we have learned other ways to help protect building.  Bullet proof windows help with making an earthquakes safe house. Lighter the materials the better heavy materials make is easier to collapse under stress.  A light roof is better it will reduce the amount of damage to the home. Making an earthquake safe building flexibility is the key. A taller buildings is better than smaller buildings because the taller building has more flexibility. Most earthquake safe buildings have shock absorbers to reduce the damage from seismic waves.

By learning from other cultures, we now no how to make earthquake safe structures. As you can see, we go through lots of different time periods. From 500 hundred years ago in Japan to now in modern science, we’ve learned to apply cost effective ways to protect buildings and lives.



1 Comment

Filed under BR, Earthquakes, Geography and World Studies, Geology, Science

One response to “BR’s report – The History of Earthquake Safe Structures

  1. Awesome, incredibly awesome! How we underestimate the potential of a child who discovers an interesting topic… 🙂

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