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Guidance aims to make ports quake-proof

NEW DESIGN guidance to be published next week will help engineers assess earthquake risks more thoroughly when designing port structures.

The guidance will highlight dangers posed to structures by ground liquefaction during quakes.

The new design manual, Seismic design of port structures - international guidelines, has been put together following the 1995 Kobe earthquake in Japan (NCE 26 January 1995).

The quake caused ground liquefaction at Kobe port, leading to collapse and subsidence of cranes, buildings and quay walls.

The port was put out of operation for months and has never clawed back shipping trade lost as a result.

Many of the structural failures seen at Kobe are common to other ports in areas of high seismic activity, said the author of the port guidelines, Whitby Bird director Scott Steedman.

Problems arise because designers are ignorant about soil mechanics and the ways different foundation types will interact with the ground when earthquakes strike, Steedman claimed.

None of the existing design codes have ever clearly set out the risks of building ports in seismic regions.

This has resulted in structures being under designed and at risk, or over designed and uneccessarily expensive.

Manchester was shaken by a series of earth tremors earlier this week. The first, measuring 3.2 on the Richter scale, struck at 8.45am on Monday. It was followed four hours later by another measuring 3.9 - roughly 11 times more powerful.

INFOPLUS

The report will be launched at the ICE at 10am next Wednesday.

Details: (020) 7665 2236

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