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Building designed to prevent total collapse, preserve life, and minimize damage in case of an earthquake or tremor. Earthquakes exert lateral as well as vertical forces, and a structure's response to their random, often sudden motions is a complex task that is just beginning to be understood. Earthquake-resistant structures absorb and dissipate seismically induced motion through a combination of means: damping decreases the amplitude of oscillations of a vibrating structure, while ductile materials (e.g., steel) can withstand considerable inelastic deformation. If a skyscraper has too flexible a structure, then tremendous swaying in its upper floors can develop during an earthquake. Care must be taken to provide built-in tolerance for some structural damage, resist lateral loading through stiffeners (diagonal sway bracing), and allow areas of the building to move somewhat independently.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on earthquake-resistant structure, visit Britannica.com.
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