Burmister Lecture
Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics
Columbia University


Geotechnical Damage in Recent Earthquakes in Japan and Soil Property Characterization Associated with Landslides



Prof. Kenji Ishihara

Professor, Chuo University
Prof. Emeritus, University of Tokyo

April 19, 2004 (Monday)
5:00 - 6:00 p.m.

Davis Auditorium, CEPSR
Columbia University


Three large earthquakes hit the northern part of Japan on 26ths in every other month in 2003.  In the earthquake of September 26, fire broke out in two oil storage tanks due to sloshing motion of oil.  Slumping of river dikes, liquefaction in the harbour area and landslides in gentle slopes were major features of the damage.  Of interest was the lateral sand boiling which occurred in the ground behind the man-made water channel and in the area of the landslides.  These features of the ground damage will be introduced in the first part of the lecture.

In the events of May 26 and July 26, 2003, the landslides in the volcanic soil deposits accompanied by runout of the debris as distant as 100m were the characteristics feature of the distress.  Special soil tests were conducted in the laboratory to determine the residual strength of the volcanic soils involved in the slide.  This type of test may be called “Constant volume triaxial test” in which it was possible to determine the residual strength even for the soils which are not saturated.  The results of these tests were used to provide some interpretations for the amount of the runout distance of the debris involved in the slide.

About Prof. Ishihara: Prof. Kenji Ishihara is past president of the International Society of Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (ISSMGE). He has been a Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Tokyo until 1995, and since then a professor at the Tokyo University of Science and now at the Chuo University. He is the author of several hundred papers and three books, including Fundamentals of Soil Dynamics (1974), Soil Mechanics (1988) and Soil Behavior in Earthquake Geotechnics (1996). He has served on various occasions as consultant or adviser to UNESCO and UNDP projects. He has been honored with the 33rd Rankine Lecture of the British Geotechnical Society in 1993, the Terzaghi oration in 1997 at 14th ICSMGE in Hamburg, the 3rd H.B. Seed Medal of ASCE in 1998, and the Japan Academy Prize in 2000.

Questions: Hoe Ling (e-mail: Ling@civil.columbia.edu)