California earthquake: MICROBES could save buildings from Big One – ‘Time is running out’

October 20, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs

California earthquake microbes could
save buildings from big one time is running out
earthquakes could one day become extinct following a groundbreaking project using
injected microbes to stabilize soil in 1964 an earthquake in Japan made the
ground so unstable an apartment building tipped over to the point locals had to
walk down the side of the building to escape this incident was caused by soil
liquefaction where otherwise solid soil temporarily behaved as a viscous liquid
the phenomenon occurs in water saturated soils affected by seismic waves caused
ground vibrations during earthquakes now a research team has come up with an
inventive solution to such earthquake carnage by enlisting the help of soil
microbes professor leon van paulson is part of the center for bio mediated and
bio-inspired geotechnics see BBG at Arizona State University team
investigating the inventive earthquake protection he told expressed co dot uk’
we have been studying biological process and the main aim is to see if we can use
them to improve ground properties lately our study focused on stimulating
indigenous microbes or native bacteria by feeding them a mixture of nutrients
which results in the generation of burped nitrogen gas bubbles if you
introduce small gas bubbles into the ground those gas bubbles may dampen
vibrations the CBB G senior investigator warns time is running out as a big one
can hit the u.s. he said the Cascadia earthquake is one of the big earthquakes
which can be coming in the near future as a result of the Pacific plate moving
underneath the US continent this can be a magnitude 9 earthquake like that
Tohoku quake in Japan that is the big risk which hangs over the whole western
US many cities in this area have buildings on very loosely compacted
soils which may liquefy during a big earthquake soil liquefaction sees the
earth turn into liquids with anything built on tops
getting over but Professor van pasina’s excited by his researches potential to
prevent this from happening he added the challenges to find a method of
stabilizing soils underneath existing structures the idea of our proposed
solution is that we can inject the food for the microbes in the ground over
large distances so we will be able to reach the ground underneath existing
structures we have also been studying other processes including some processes
where we feed the microbes which cements the soils that’s maybe a more long-term
durable solution because of the techniques non-invasive nature the
researchers ultimately are hoping their microbial technique could be applied to
liquefaction prone landscapes around the world particularly those where
infrastructure is already in place and cannot be easily fortified without
digging it up