NEW DESIGN guidance, launched at the ICE last month, aims to help engineers assess earthquake risks more thoroughly when designing port structures.
Seismic design of port structures - international guidelines has been put together following the 1995 Kobe earthquake in Japan, and will highlight dangers posed to structures by ground liquefaction.
Ground liquefaction at Kobe port led to collapse and subsidence of cranes, buildings and quay walls, putting the port out of operation for months with permanent loss of trade.
Many of the structural failures seen at Kobe are common to other ports in areas of high seismic activity, said Scott Steedman, a director of UK consultant Whitby Bird and author of the guidelines.
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.
No existing design codes clearly set out the risks of building ports in seismic regions. As a result structures are either underdesigned and at risk, or overdesigned and unnecessarily expensive.