Segments in this Video

Pulsing Seismic Waves (02:32)


Long period pulses were detected during the 2016 earthquakes in southwest Japan. If they had struck skyscrapers, current safety technologies could not prevent lateral sways, five times what the buildings are designed to endure.

Kumamoto Quake (04:59)

In April 2016, powerful earthquakes created a 30 kilometer ground fissure; seismographs recorded intensity seven waveforms ten seconds after. Using event data in computer simulation reveals that long period pulses would deform skyscrapers.

Great Eastern Japan Earthquake (03:43)

In March 2011, long seismic waves hit Tokyo, causing skyscrapers to sway for minutes. Long period pulses jolted upper floors, giving movement momentum. Engineers responded, installing dampers and pendulums in high rises.

Chichi Earthquake Comparison Study (04:49)

In 1999, long period pulses and an 80 kilometer ground fissure was recorded in Taiwan; surface breaks also occurred during the Kumamoto event. Quakes on active fault lines that produce crevices are connected to the waveform phenomenon.

Susceptibility to Natural Disasters (04:17)

The Kumamoto earthquake revealed a new risk to cities across Japan. With 113 active faults, an event could occur at any time. Long cycle movements specifically put skyscrapers in danger. Osaka, built on the Uemachi Fault Zone, is particularly vulnerable.

Event Dramatization (06:39)

Thousands of Japanese live in high rises. If Osaka skyscrapers were hit with long period pulses, buildings would be compromised, and residents required to evacuate. Fires would break out across the city; 340,000 people would be displaced.

Safety Precautions (07:35)

In Tokyo, high rise building managers attend a Disaster Prevention Study Group, learning risks of evacuations. Some implement emergency communication and community help systems. Awa is demolishing all structures built over fault lines.

Hidden Dangers (05:41)

Professor Daigoro Isobe studies long period pulses, finding densely packed cities vulnerable to adjacent building collisions. Seismic base isolators are effective during typical earthquakes, but sharp jolts caused by long cycle movements would cause them to sway high rises into neighboring buildings.

Creating Solutions (07:05)

At Hyogo Earthquake Engineering Research Center, scientists develop floating city designs, prohibiting lateral and vertical vibrations. In Handa, Yasui Architect and Engineers incorporates base isolators with dampers, acting as breaks to reduce shaking and mitigating damages from long period pulses.

Credits: Skyscrapers in Aseismic Danger (00:60)

Credits: Skyscrapers in Aseismic Danger

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Skyscrapers in Aseismic Danger

Part of the Series : Mega Crisis
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



Skyscrapers are symbols of big cities. But the mega earthquake that hit Kumamoto, Japan, in 2016 proved that even earthquake-resilient high-rise buildings can shake greatly and suffer severe damage. The culprit is the long period seismic pulse, which is lurking in active faults throughout the world. Simulations of this motion showed that tall buildings shook three times more, causing them to tilt. This episode depicts the destructive power of the long period seismic pulse, and the latest counter measures to combat this threat.

Length: 50 minutes

Item#: BVL188319

ISBN: 978-1-64623-579-7

Copyright date: ©2017

Closed Captioned

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Not available to Home Video and Publisher customers.

Only available in USA.