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How is the Leaning Tower of Pisa still standing?

Posted on Thursday, 10 May, 2018 | Comment icon 3 comments

The tower's construction was completed in 1372. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Mstyslav Chernov
Scientists believe that they have finally determined how the world-famous structure is still standing after so long.
Known for its alarming tilt, the tower, which was built in the 12th century, had started to lean even before its construction was complete due to the ground underneath being too soft on one side.

Its tilt continued to get worse until efforts were made to stabilize it in the 1990s.

But how did it manage to last hundreds of years without collapsing entirely ? Its survival is particularly impressive considering the fact that four strong earthquakes have hit the region over the centuries.

Now a 16-strong team of scientists and engineers may have finally solved the mystery and it is all to do with the characteristics of the foundation soil that gave the tower its lean in the first place.

After studying seismological, geotechnical and structural information, the researchers determined that the tower's resilience is down to how the height and stiffness of the tower itself combine with the softness of the soil to modify the vibrational characteristics of the structure.

As a result, the tower does not resonate with earthquake ground motion like other buildings do.

"Ironically, the very same soil that caused the leaning instability and brought the tower to the verge of collapse, can be credited for helping it survive these seismic events," said Prof George Mylonakis.

Source: Science Daily | Comments (3)

Tags: Leaning Tower of Pisa

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Susanc241 on 11 May, 2018, 6:55
I had the good fortune of being able to go up this tower in the early 60s before it was closed for some years due to further increase in the tilt. I believe it is now open again to tourists since the remedial work was done. Weird sensation, like climbing a steep bank and a shallow one alternately, in quick succession.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Mumbo Gumbo on 22 May, 2018, 9:29
Actually, Superman and Mighty Mouse have been taking turns holding it up. LOL
Comment icon #3 Posted by Wolfang on 22 May, 2018, 14:00
lol, nice joke. Wow, I never thought that this tower had the probability of falling in the future. How terrible it would be

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