ISET, The Indian National Earthquake Society

ISET, the Indian Society of Earthquake Technology was established in 1962. To involve everyone (engineers and scientists as well) interested in mitigating earthquakes, in the society’s activities, the Society has adopted in its name the neutral word ‘Technology’, instead of Engineering or Science. It is a platform for engineers, geologists and seismologists to collaboratively work on problems related to earthquake disaster mitigation and has over the years pioneered significant research and application findings in the field of Earthquake Technology. The founding President of ISET, Late Prof. Jai Krishna brought out the first Indian Seismic Design Code. ISET is a founding member of the International Association for Earthquake Engineering (IAEE) and represents India on world fora dealing with various aspects of earthquake engineering. A number of ISET members have served on the Executive Committee of the IAEE. Since 1962, the committee responsible for formulation of various Indian Standard Codes of Practice related to Earthquake Engineering was led by ISET members. An overview of the Earthquake Risk Reduction activities in India was presented during the Fifteenth Mallet-Milne Lecture available here

ISET Luminaries

ISET members have contributed significantly towards seismic risk reduction within India and the world in general. Prof. Jai Krishna (late), the 5th president of IAEE and the founding president of ISET was recognized posthumously as a ‘Legend of Earthquake Engineering’ during the 14th World Conference on Earthquake Engineering. He was instrumental in the publication of the first Indian national seismic code in 1962. Subsequently, ISET members have played significant role in bringing out the revisions of the national seismic code and associated guidelines. Prof. A.S.Arya (late), a former director (1977-84) of IAEE and the organising secretary of 6WCEE was a recipient of the United Nations Sasakawa Disaster Prevention Award of 1997. He contributed significantly to the IAEE Guidelines for Earthquake Resistant Non-Engineered Construction published in 1986, the first of its kind. Many ISET members have held responsible positions in IAEE and contributed to the cause of global seismic risk reduction. Prof. Sudhir K. Jain, the Immediate Past President of IAEE, is an ISET member.

Late Prof. Jai Krishna
Late Prof. A.S. Arya
Prof. Shamsher Prakash
Prof. Harsh K. Gupta
Prof. Sudhir K. Jain

Prof. Sudhir K. Jain
Immediate Past President, IAEE

The National Information Centre of Earthquake Engineering (NICEE – established 1999) at Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur handles resources on earthquake engineering making these available to interested users, and undertakes regular outreach activities with a view to mitigate earthquake disaster.

NICEE has contributed immensely for the improvement in quality of earthquake resistant design and construction. NICEE has taken up the task of digitizing and hosting the WCEE proceedings for the benefit of every one.

Department of Earthquake Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee (erstwhile University of Roorkee) was established in 1960 as School of Research and Training in Earthquake Engineering. Four major areas of earthquake engineering viz., Structural Dynamics, Soil Dynamics, Engineering Seismology and Seismotectonics, and Instrumentation have been nurtured for the last fifty years.

The department provides Master’s degree in three specializations namely, Structural Dynamics, Soil Dynamics, and Seismic Vulnerability and risk Assessment. The major functions of the Department include teaching and research, and rendering expert advice to various organizations in the area of earthquake resistant design of structures and systems, such as dams, bridges, power plants, etc. The Department has played a key role at the national level in the formulation Indian Standard Codes of Practice for earthquake resistant design of Structures.

Several major facilities have been developed in the Department to conduct experiments related to earthquake engineering. Some of the major facilities include: a low cost railway wagon shock table for dynamic testing of structural models, a computer controlled shake table to stimulate strong ground motion, a quasi static testing laboratory having servo-controlled dynamic actuator systems and servo-controlled compression testing machine, a soil dynamics laboratory equipped with liquefaction table and cyclic triaxial testing system, a seismological observatory having state of the art broadband seismograph to record earthquake ground motion, a strong motion network of 300 digital accelerographs deployed in the Himalayan region to measure strong ground motion due to moderate and major earthquakes and a state-of-the-art 12-station telemetered network to monitor local seismicity in the environs of Tehri Dam.

Experience in Organising National & International Conferences

  • Quadrennial National Symposium on Earthquake Engineering’ since 1962
  • 6WCEE in New Delhi, in 1977
  • Symposium on ‘Earthquake effects on Plant and Equipment’ in Hyderabad, in 1984
  • Symposium on ‘Earthquake effects on Structures, Plant and Machinery’ in New Delhi, in 1996
  • 6th International Conference on Recent Advances in Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering and Soil Dynamics in New Delhi, in 2016

Down the memory lane - 6WCEE

The 6th World Conference on Earthquake Engineering held in New Delhi from 10-14 January, 1977 was organised by ISET, with Prof. Jai Krishna, the founding President of ISET as the organising chairman. The then Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi and President of India, Dr. Fakhruddin Ali Ahmad, and all the Government functionaries have shown tremendous support for organising the 6th WCEE in New Delhi. Dr. Fakhruddin Ali Ahmad, the then President, has inaugurated the conference and released a commemorative stamp and the souvenir volume, during the inaugural ceremony held at Vigyan Bhawan. The conference was a huge success. Such was the success that Prof. Jai Krishna was elected as the new President of IAEE during the General Assembly held during the conference and declared as the President for the term 1977-1980, during the closing ceremony of 6th WCEE.

6WCEE Inauguration Ceremony

Group Photograph with PM Mrs. Indira Gandhi

Photograph with President Dr. Fakhruddin Ali Ahmad

6WCEE Lecture hall with Attendees

6WCEE Reminiscences

“… by the time of the fourth or fifth world conference, the people at Roorkee felt strong enough and resourceful enough that they could host the world conference in Delhi. So that they did, and they did a beautiful job.”

An excerpt from the Caltech Oral History of
Donald E. Hudson (late)

The 6th president of IAEE

“His first attendance at a WCEE meeting was in New Delhi in 1977. It was a memorable experience meeting so many of the eminent earthquake engineers from all over the world. For the next 40 years, he attended nearly every WCEE.”

An excerpt from IAEE's introduction to the master James O. Jirsa,

Emeritus Professor, University of Texas at Austin.

Indian Seismicity

History of Earthquakes in India

  • Collision of Indo-Australian plate to Eurasian plate is a
    region of greatest continental tectonic deformation in the world.
  • 15% of great earthquakes (M 8.0) in the 20th century occurred in India.
  • More than 50% of India’s land area is vulnerable to earthquakes.
  • The Indian subcontinent has experienced multiple earthquakes since ancient times
  • A large magnitude earthquake is due in the seismic gap of the Himalayas.

Map Showing The Four Seismic Zones Of India (After Bis: 1893 (Part 1), 2016)

  • The 1897 Shillong earthquake: The first earthquake that provided evidence that acceleration exceeded 1 g as boulders were lifted up from their sockets vertically (Oldham, R. D.(1899): Report on the great earthquake of 12 June 1897, Mem. Geo. Sur. In. Vol 29, pp 1- 379)
  • Consequent to the 26 December Mw 9.1 Sumatra earthquake, India is credited to have set up the Indian Tsunami Early Warning System, operating since 2007 and now regarded as among the best in the world.
  • Anthropogenic seismicity is gaining importance. The largest artificial water reservoir triggered earthquake of M 6.3 on 10 December 1967 occurred at Koyna. Over the last 53 years, a lot of work has been carried out including setting up a 3 km deep Pilot Borehole laboratory for near field study of triggered earthquakes.
  • A repeat of the 1905 Kangra/1897 Shillong earthquake could claim ~1/2 million human lives!

Traditional Indian Earthquake Resistant Architecture

  • Foundations laid using sandbox technique.
  • The technique involved filling the pit dug up for laying foundation with a mixture of sand, lime, jaggery (for binding) and karakkaya (Chebulic myrobalan), before the buildings were constructed on these ‘sandboxes’.
  • The sandbox in the foundation acts as a cushion and most of the vibrations caused by earthquake get de-amplified while passing through the sand by the time they reach the actual foundation of the building.
  • Dhajji Dewari system – a valid construction in seismic area got its recognition after Kashmir earthquake in 2005. Due to its resemblance in the appearance to quilt patchwork of Persian weavers, it is called as “Dhajji”. It is quite prevalent in the earthquake prone areas of Jammu and Kashmir. Significant earthquake resistance, cost effective, use of indigenous available resources and skill, swift in construction process makes it a selective choice for earthquake disaster re-inhabitation. It is also referred in the Indian Standard Codes as brick nogged timber frame construction.
  • Bhungas, circular mud huts, are both resilient in the face of quakes and central to the Kutch identity. All the bhungas of this little village in Kutch survived the tremor of 2001, when every other house collapsed. A bhunga uses a circular shape for its maximum advantage against the lateral forces of an earthquake.
  • Assam-type houses are commonly found in the northeastern states of India. These are generally single dwelling units and do not have common walls with adjacent buildings. The house is made largely using wood-based materials. Performance of Assam-type houses has been extremely good in several past earthquakes in the region. Structural strengths that influence earthquake safety of the house include light-weight materials used for walls and roofs, flexible connections between various wooden elements at different levels, etc.
  • Buildings of Koti Banal Architecture can be found in in the northern part of the state Uttarakhand and the southern part of the state Himachal Pradesh in Northern India. The reasons that these buildings outlived so many centuries mainly lie in their structural configuration which clearly demonstrate that their builders already had the idea of dynamic earthquake actions, particularly out-of-plane failure of masonry walls.

Seismic activity in India spatially varied and complex with various tectonic provinces of different characteristics.

Seismic risk factors – population density and poor construction quality Earthquake preparedness not a part of the public consciousness.

Disaster Management Act 2005 enacted by Central Government. Provides institutional mechanism for responding to disasters including earthquake.

The need: to raise awareness and to empower local bodies to take needful actions in accordance with the seismic vulnerability of respective regions.

Hosting WCEE in India

  • Helps raise awareness among the policy makers, administrators and the public on earthquake safety design and mitigation plans.
  • Helps disseminate the knowledge on earthquake resistant design across the globe especially among the developing countries.
Conference Program

The detailed conference program, the new intiatives to be introduced in 18WCEE, the special attractions in the local tours, social program and technical tours can be seen by clicking below.

Venue & Tourism

Information on the facilities available in the conference venue, accommodation details, places-to-visit in and around Delhi and various popular tourist destinations is available in the link below.

Conference Dates

Information on the various cultural, art, adventure and nature events during October is available in the link below.

Support Letters

Hon'ble Minister, MoES
Secretary, MoES
Immediate Past President, IAEE
President, Geological Society of India
Director, NGRI
Director, IIT Roorkee
Director, IISc Bangalore
Director, IIT Dharwad
Director, NIT Durgapur
Director, NIT Jamshedpur
President, IAStructE
Director, IIT Mandi
Director, IIT Delhi

Supporting Organizations