A Tour of the World’s Largest Earthquake Simulator

Petr Lebedev of Veritasium visited The National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Resilience (NEID) facility in Tsukuba, Japan where he was given a tour of E-Defense, the world’s largest earthquake simulator. This is where scientists simulate varying degrees of this destructive natural phenomenon and use that information to build stronger and safer infrastructures and buildings.

Its huge shake table can support a 10-story building and then move it in all directions with the force of the world’s most destructive earthquakes. E-Defense has conducted more than a hundred tests, subjecting all kinds of buildings to different simulated earthquakes, all to learn how to make buildings more earthquake-resistant.

Worlds Largest Earthquake Simulator

The testing began after the Great Hanshin earthquake in 1995. The unexpected nature of the earthquake left everyone unprepared for the tragic loss of life and incredible damage within the Hyogo Prefecture, particularly in the capital city of Kobe, Japan.

Japan is one of the most seismically active countries in the world. It sits on the boundary of four tectonic plates and 90% of all earthquakes, and almost all of the powerful ones happen at tectonic plate boundaries. But Kobe isn’t near one. This earthquake was caused by an interplate fault,…This fault hadn’t produced any earthquakes for around a thousand years, so the city was completely unprepared. …In response, the government gathered scientists for a conference on earthquake disaster prevention, and there they agreed to build the largest earthquake simulator the world had ever seen.

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.