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NAM carries out Japan lab experiment to measure earthquake impact on Groningen homes

Printed below is an English translation of information published on 18 April by Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij BV (NAM), a joint venture between Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil each owning a 50% share in the company responsible for the earthquake blighted Groningen Gas Field and consequential potential bill for untold billions in damages to effected residences.

Experiment with Groningen earthquake in Japan


In Japan, an earthquake is imitated in the week of 7-11 May in the laboratory of NIED, the National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Resilience. It is a large-scale scientific experiment of NAM with pulvarised rock, which has the same composition as the underground of the Groningen gas field.

Four men prepare the experiment in the Japanese laboratory of NIED

The experiment takes place in Tsukuba Science City, the science city about 50 kilometers northeast of Tokyo. Prof. dr. Chris Spiers of the University of Utrecht is in charge. Spiers is an authority in the field of laboratory experiments into compaction and earthquakes.

Large and unique

Spiers: ‘Experiments have been carried out on a very small scale, but this is very large, it is unique. We receive support from the renowned geologists from the geological center in Tsukuba Science City. The best scientists in the world are there. What is going to happen here is really the cream of the crop. ‘

Acquire knowledge

NAM is conducting the experiment in Japan to gain more knowledge about what happens at Groningen three kilometers underground. Based on this, the existing models on earthquakes are tested.

Head of earthquake research Jan van Elk van NAM: ‘The gas production in Groningen will decrease further in the coming years, so the seismicity too. Nevertheless, we continue to do research, with the aim of understanding the earthquakes as well as possible and thus also limiting risks as much as possible. ‘

During the experiment, two blocks of rock are pressed against each other under great pressure on a so-called shake-table and moved along each other, creating a vibration along the fault line that resembles a Groningen earthquake of something below M1 on the Richter scale.

Previous research

Over the past two years, NAM has commissioned a number of experiments on shake tables in the Italian Pavia and Portuguese Lisbon to measure the effects of earthquakes on homes in Groningen.


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