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Thomas D. O'Rourke head shot

School of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Cornell University

Ithaca, NY



U.S.-Japan Cooperative Research on Earthquake Resistant Design of Lifeline Facilities and Countermeasures Against Soil Liquefaction

group photo

Prof. Thomas D. O'Rourke, Cornell University, and Masanori Hamada, Waseda University are the primary coordinators of the cooperative research, and served as co-organizers of the workshop series.

U.S.-Japan research on earthquake resistant design of lifeline facilities focuses on the earthquake performance of lifelines, with emphasis on liquefaction-induced large ground deformations. Currently, there is a growing recognition in the civil and earthquake engineering communities of the importance of large ground deformations, which are the principal cause of subsurface structural damage during earthquakes. Our understanding of the mechanisms of large ground deformations and their effects on lifeline facilities, and our ability to predict the magnitude and distribution of ground displacements have improved substantially in recent years to provide a rational framework for design and protective measures. Both Japanese and U.S. researchers have been working on this topic, and it was recognized that considerable benefits will result from their cooperative efforts to collect case history data and recommend the most appropriate analytical methods and design procedures.

The program was initiated formally in November, 1988 with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Japanese and U.S. sides. The document was signed at a ceremony during a workshop in Tokyo, Japan by K. Kubo, Professor Emeritus of Tokyo University, and M. Shinozuka, the Champion Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Southern California. Professor Kubo signed on behalf of the Association for the Development of Earthquake Prediction (ADEP), the Japanese sponsoring agency. Professor Shinozuka signed on behalf of Robert L. Ketter, then Director of the National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (NCEER), the U.S. sponsoring agency (which became MCEER in 1998).

Since 1988, the US-Japan research has materialized into a series of eight workshops:

  1. Tokyo, Japan, November 16-19, 1988.
  2. Buffalo, NY, September 26-29, 1989.
  3. San Francisco, CA, December 17-19, 1990.
  4. Honolulu, HI, May 27-29, 1992.
  5. Snowbird, UT, September 29-October 1, 1994.
  6. Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan, June 11-13, 1996.
  7. Seattle, WA, August 15-17, 1999.
  8. Tokyo, Japan, December 16-18, 2002.

The research program has developed case histories of earthquake-induced ground deformations and their effects on lifeline facilities in the US and Japan, resulting in the publication of a two-volume report. In addition, the proceedings from the workshops listed above cover case history data, analytical modeling, experimental studies and recommendations for improved practices.