Seismic Cloaking: Dampening & Diverting Seismic Waves
Earthquake resistant design successfully protects buildings and critical infrastructure from significant damage during an earthquake. However, there are many vulnerable locations that do not have critical earthquake-resistant infrastructure in place. Retrofitting existing buildings and infrastructure is an expensive and time-consuming process, so the question becomes how to protect lives and structures in these types of locations. Scientists at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory are developing “seismic cloaking” technologies to solve this exact problem.
Describing the project, Lincoln Laboratory stated, “To minimize earthquake-related threats, we are testing a novel concept that redirects and attenuates hazardous seismic waves by implementing an engineered seismic cloaking barrier around high-value structures and city-regions. These barriers utilize metamaterials that create an effective subsurface medium composed of subwavelength structures with seismic manipulation properties not present in natural geological strata.”
Essentially, seismic cloaking involves drilling boreholes in the ground which dampen and divert seismic waves away from the protected region. Robert Haupt, principal investigator on the project, explained, “Just a single line (of boreholes) by itself was not effective since there was seismic communication between the holes, but a block of them was [effective in dampening seismic waves].”
In model and laboratory tests, this seismic cloaking technology was able to reduce the energy behind a magnitude 7 quake to that of a magnitude 5 - a massive reduction that would save lives and prevent the destruction of buildings and infrastructure. Similar experiments in seismic cloaking have also been conducted by the National Center for Scientific Research in France, in which a forest of trees was able to absorb seismic energy.
Further developments in seismic cloaking will be vital earthquake technology to potentially save billions of dollars in damage and protect countless lives. Learn more about all the latest technology and innovations at The Earthquake Expo on February 7 & 8, 2022 at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Register for free tickets today!