Current practice for seismic design of structures and facilities is generally to accommodate loads or cope with displacements induced by earthquake shaking.
An alternative to this approach is to filter the seismic vibration by adding flexible elements (isolators) between the structure and its base, in order to decrease the response of isolated structures and components. The isolators shift the fundamental frequency to low values and, possibly, increase the damping. This reduces inertial forces and accelerations transferred to the building.
The first seismic isolated structures were built after WWII. The first base-isolated nuclear power-plant was built in France in the 70s.
Seismic Isolation has been used more and more in the last 20 years (in Japan -after the 1995 Kobe earthquake -, USA, France, Italy, New-Zealand) for conventional, non-nuclear structures, such as buildings, bridges, offshore oil and gas platforms, high hazard storage tanks, industrial facilities. Their design is based on developed codes and Standards with controlled manufacturing and specified site construction procedures.
The development is such that the technique is considered as mature, and its use has been promoted on many nuclear projects in the last 10 years. Two base isolated research facilities (RJH and ITER) are under construction in south of France.
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