Blow Up Your Neighborhood for Earthquake Protection Science Project

Posted by K R on

It's not every day that the average person gets to blow something up at their job. Even rarer: Getting to blow up the neighborhood where you used to live. But as Next City reports today, that's exactly what happened to the last remaining resident of an abandoned suburb that served as the testing ground for an experiment that may lead to safer, more earthquake-proof buildings. The earthquake that hit Christchurch in 2011 destroyed thousands of buildings, but it also rendered hundreds of whole neighborhoods uninhabitable because of "soil liquefaction," a phenomenon that makes the structures above it prone to collapse. Earthquake experts from around the world, led by The Earthquake Commission, wanted to test a structural system that would fight liquefaction by stabilizing the soil, and they chose one Christchurch suburb to install a prototype. And then blow it up. The team embedded 900 pounds of gelignite—a type of explosive invented by Alfred Nobel—below their structural system, which had been installed below the chosen abandoned Christchurch suburb. Then, in an act of poetic symmetry, they enlisted one of its old residents to press the button—and off it went. More via Gizmodo.

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