Earthquake-proofing ports

Written for the Australia-Indonesia Centre

Researchers from The University of Melbourne are learning how to modify existing Indonesian and Australian ports so earthquakes don’t do such devastating damage to sea trade.

“What we currently have is a recipe for disaster. Some of the port infrastructure is over 100 years old and wasn’t designed to cope with the loads they are currently bearing, let alone an earthquake,” says Dr Massoud Sofi.

He’s a University of Melbourne researcher and member of The Australia-Indonesia Centre’s Infrastructure Cluster, which is leading this project.

They’re currently collecting data on the deterioration rate and load capacity of Port Teluk Lamong in Surabaya, the Port of Melbourne and Port of Hastings in Australia, as well as the natural features of the landscape around the ports.

They’ll use this data to develop a computer model of the port, which they can subject to earthquake events and assess how it performs.

“We hope that our research leads to an upgrade or better maintenance of ports so they are safer and bounce back faster from earthquakes,” Massoud says.