Were adobe pyramids constructed to withstand earthquakes? The Lima Culture of Peru (?200 B.C. - 700 A.D.) constructed many mud brick pyramids that have survived numerous large earthquakes. Was this purely by chance or were there design features that are effective damping systems? A fascinating article explores these earthquake resistant pyramids.
As I sat in my office in one of the high rise buildings in San Isidro feeling the effect of a relatively minor (M5.5) earthquake (the fifth of 2013, which shook my surroundings like distant thunder) I was reminded that in this plate-edge environment where earthquakes are far from infrequent the peoples of Peru must have been coping with such instability since they first appeared in the land. The geological setting of Lima would not perhaps be considered conducive to construction. The city is built upon two great alluvial fans of the rivers Rimac and Chillon. These fans, of late Pliocene or early Pleistocene age, derived from the igneous rocks of the Andes, comprise a thick sequence of sands, gravels, cobbles and boulder beds sometimes showing good gradation and localized stratification.