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Hopkins Seismic Expert Heads To Japan To Help

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Jessica Kartalija 3 Jessica Kartalija
Jessica Kartalija joined the Eyewitness News team during the summer of...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) –The tragedy in Japan has galvanized the world.

Jessica Kartalija reports an expert at Johns Hopkins University is heading to Japan to help.

Thousands of miles from the epicenter of the earthquake that rocked Japan, Dr. Narutoshi Nakata is preparing to go to the country to study its infrastructure.

“Our tasks are to investigate the performance of the structure due to the performance of the earthquake [and to] see the damage for different types of structures, concrete structures and steel structures,” said Nakata.

He was born near Osaka.  Fortunately, his family is doing OK. 

 Nakata earned his degrees from the University of Kyoto, then got his Ph.D. in the states and came to Hopkins.

Because the country is vulnerable to seismic activity, Japan is known for having some of the world’s best earthquake engineers.

“Looking at what happened, what I see is a lot of damage due to tsunami, which is different from earthquake,” Nakata said.

This past December, the National Science Foundation awarded Nakata’s team a 3-year, $923,000 grant to study how seismic forces affect steel buildings.

“We test this using experiment, but we don’t ignore the rest of the structure,” he said.

Quakes are common in Japan, so engineers have designed buildings to bend, not to break.

“I believe that most people were ready but the scope was much more than people expected,” Nakata said.

It’s unclear as to when he will head over to Japan. Rescue and recovery efforts must be completed first.

Last year, Nakata received an award for his work on earthquakes.

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