ROLE OF GEOTECHNICS IN EARTHQUAKE ENGINEERING

The large earthquakes over the years have left many lessons to be learned which are essential in putting forward countermeasures or policy to mitigate similar calamities in future. The degree and nature of damage incurred by earthquakes depends largely upon states of social developments of the region in which an event occurs. The topography, ground water conditions and subsurface soil conditions are also important factors influencing features of the damage caused by great earthquakes. Needless to say, the most important would be the intensity of shaking of the ground at the time of the earthquake. There are so many factors as above to be considered that it is practically difficult to forecast the intensity of shaking and the level of the damage resulting form an earthquake at a given region. Under the inherent circumstances as above, the earthquake engineering has been developed by reflecting on bitter experiences of calamity that occurred during past earthquakes. In this sense, the earthquake engineering could be cited as “experience engineering”. It is thus mandatory for engineers to carefully investigate the damage feature, exercise deep insight into causes of the incident, come up with good ideas for mitigation and to implement them in the retrofit works that follows. The experiences should be reflected as well on implementation of countermeasures for existing facilities and structures and further on in renewing the design codes and regulations in future. It is without saying that the geotechnical engineers specializing earthquake engineering should recognize themselves to carry this responsibility and in this sense learning lessons from past earthquakes are the most important things assigned to our profession. Since individual earthquake has its own characteristics, it would be necessary to learn new lessons as large earthquakes occur. In the development of earthquake geotechnology, for example, Niigata Earthquake in Japan 1964 could be cited as a milestone event in that it has first demonstrated the importance of liquefaction in sand deposits in bringing about various kinds of damage to the ground itself and structures thereupon. The subsequent earthquake in 1978 in Japan off Izu peninsula triggered the breach of a tailings dam located in the mountaintop, leading to widespread contamination of river beds downhill. The liquefaction of sand containing silt with low plasticity fines was first identified to be of importance as well in generating a state of liquefaction in silty sand deposits. The Kobe Earthquake in Japan 1995 would be cited as the first event where manmade islands suffered catastrophic damage along their periphery where quay walls have grossly moved seaward involving large amount of soil deposits behind them. The lateral spreading of once liquefied soils was found to exert truly detrimental effects on the structures and facilities existing on such laterally moving soil ground. Since then, problems related with lateral spreading have become a subject of extensive studies and discussions in the international arena of the earthquake geotechnics.

the damage due to geotechnical origin such as liquefaction and landslides forms a major part of the distress by earthquakes. Thus. seismic code or regulations for earthquake-resistant design has been put forward mainly for structures and implemented in the design of medium to large-scale buildings or facilities. In the developed countries. From considerations as above. the structural damage has become less and less pronounced and implementation of anti-seismic design is recognized to have contributed greatly for reduction of distress during earthquakes. and there is a plenty of challenges emerging from one earthquake after another that is worthy of notice and requires further studies before relevant solutions become of use for mitigating the distress resulting from large earthquakes. The damage by the earthquakes may be divided into two groups. In contrast. or foundations embedded in liquefied deposit or those undergoing lateral spreading is now one of the major issues of consideration for which some solutions and consensus are in urgent need. it may be mentioned that the ground damage due to liquefaction and landslides is still the cause of major damage not only in developing countries but also in developed region of the world. In this context.Performance of structures resting upon. mitigation measures have not yet been implemented both in developed and developing countries to an extent to reduce the damage. Consequently. structural injury due directly to inertia force during intense shaking and indirect damage due to liquefaction or lateral spreading of the ground. geotechnical engineers should be encouraged to seek the problem areas and try to come up with some solutions in this unexplored area. . in developing countries codes or regulations have not yet been put into effect sufficiently and death tolls or property damage result mostly from the collapse of poorly constructed houses or buildings. The features of these two kinds of damage have been found different between developing and developed countries. With respect to the geotechnics-associated damage.

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