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Earthquake Research in Japan

Q&A With CSUF’s Civil Engineer Binod Tiwari

Sept. 16, 2013

Binod Tiwari is working this fall on experimental simulation of slope failure as a result of landslides and earthquakes in Japan, as a visiting associate professor at Kobe University's Research Center for Urban Safety and Security.

The CSUF associate professor of civil and environmental engineering is collaborating with Katsuyuki Kawai, an associate professor at Kobe University expert in the characterization of soil behavior, and with Kobe University and Cal State Fullerton students.

Tiwari is no stranger to research in Japan. In spring 2011, he was a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers' post-disaster assessment team in the aftermath of that country's earthquake and tsunami. Additionally, he spent seven years in Japan earning advanced degrees, including a doctorate in environmental management science with a specialization in geotechnical engineering from Niigata University.

What is the focus of your current research in Japan?
I'm working with Dr. Kawai and his students on numerical simulation to evaluate the effect of rainfall and earthquake events on slope stability. Numerical simulation is a type of simulation conducted to evaluate the behavior of materials through the use of sophisticated computer programs. Dr. Kawai and his group have developed very sophisticated computer programs to evaluate the stability of slopes during rainfall.

What is the value of this research?
This research is very important in mountainous and slope areas where there is intense rainfall and/or earthquakes. Our research objective is to predict the intensity and duration of rainfall in different types of soil to trigger a landslide, and the threshold intensity of earthquake shaking in different slopes wetted by the average amount of annual rainfall.

What do you hope to achieve?
This international collaboration will help us validate our research to predict the threshold rainfall amount that can trigger a landslide by using Dr. Kawai's computer-based model in combination with our research. Additionally, one of our model study sites is in Fukushima, where the effect of rainfall and the earthquake contributed to triggering large landslides in 2011.

How does this research tie into your work in 2011?
During our 2011 visit, we surveyed 15 large-scale landslides, with one that killed 13 people. At that time, we identified that the causes of those large-scale landslides were the combined effect of rainfall and the earthquake. Those landslides are part of our study sites.

How does Japan view earthquake-related research?
Japan has experienced earthquakes more frequently, and people there are well aware of the devastating effects. Therefore, high priority is given to earthquake-related research. Here in Orange County and the region, we haven't experienced large, destructive earthquakes lately. However, much more research about stabilizing slopes to prevent landslides after an earthquake is needed to help save lives and property.

By: Debra Cano Ramos, 657-278-4027

Tags:  Academics & Research