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News Release

Te Papa Quake Braker Puts the Brakes on Quakes

23 March 2001

Te Papa itself has become an exhibit with the opening of Quake Braker on 16 March 2001. This underground space will display some of the 152 'base isolators' that Te Papa sits on. These ingenious devices reduce the severity of the shaking felt inside the building in the event of a major earthquake, protecting the people and contents inside.

Te Papa's base isolators are large rubber blocks laminated with steel, and with pure lead columns inside. They both 'isolate' the building from the earthquake, and 'damp', or absorb, much of the shaking from the quake.

Lead-rubber base isolators are the invention of New Zealand scientist Dr William Robinson, and are now in use in buildings around the world including Japan and California.

As well as seeing some of Te Papa base isolators, visitors to Quake Braker will be also be able to see a cross-section of a base isolator, and a 'scratch pad' that shows the movement between a base-isolated building and its base. A video and interactive 'shake table' will clearly demonstrate how base isolation works, and what happens to a base-isolated building during an earthquake.

The Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences has worked closely with Te Papa in the development of Quake Braker and the Earthquake Commission has provided crucial financial support to make the base isolators accessible to the public.

Quake Braker will remain as an ongoing exhibition.


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