MANUAL Published: 01 June 2023

Chapter 5 | Elastomeric Isolation for the Seismic Protection of Buildings and Bridges


What is large, unprepossessing, squat and very heavy, has no moving parts, and sits in the basement of a large building apparently doing nothing? Elastomeric seismic protection bearings, of course! These laminated rubber bearings are composed of thin sheets of natural rubber bonded to thin steel plates. Their sole purpose is to protect the building and its contents from damage, and most importantly prevent bodily harm in the event of an earthquake. They do this by acting as a flexible layer between the building and the ground absorbing deformation caused by the shaking ground. The natural rubber retains its elastic resilience during earthquakes and restores the building to its orginal configuration when the shaking is over. Rubber bearings are widely used in civil, mechanical, and automotive engineering applications. Beginning with thermal expansion bearings for highway bridges in the 1950s then progressing to seismic isolation devices for buildings in high seismic activity areas by the early 1980s, rubber bearings continue to be used in ever-expanding roles on a global basis.

Author Information

Kelly, James, M.
Professor Emeritus, Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, California, US
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Developed by Committee: D11
Pages: 155–164
DOI: 10.1520/MNL7520170027
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-7157-2
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-7156-5