The research, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, enabled Dr Raby and other UK scientists and engineers to join an international team of experts on field trips to Japan. These two trips were conducted by the Earthquake Engineers Field Investigation Team and are part of a wider international effort to reduce the impacts of earthquakes globally.
During the initial visit in mid-2011, they were able to observe the levels of destruction caused, while a follow-up in 2013 enabled them to see the recovery, newly-completed sea defences and the design guidelines being implemented to mitigate against future catastrophes. Their analysis involved translating the disaster scenario manual prepared by Japan's National Institute for Land and Infrastructure Management, which features comprehensive material enabling designers to appreciate possible failure mechanisms.
The results shows that the threats were not being addressed in design codes, something that is also apparent more widely in tsunami-prone nations. The headline message is that there needs to be more joined-up thinking between those who understand the tsunami sources and the implications for populations and infrastructure.