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Leaning Tower of Pisa's Lean Has Changed

Pisa's landmark still holding strong after 800 years
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 21, 2018 10:05 AM CST
This 2012 photo shows the Leaning Tower of Pisa.   (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

(Newser) – No need to rush to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa before it falls. The famous Italian tower is doing just fine more than 800 years after it first started tilting during construction, according to a group that's been monitoring the 190-foot Tuscan monument since 2001. It's in better condition now than predicted by an international committee of researchers, reports ANSA. Indeed, the tower has lost 1.5 inches of its tilt over the past two decades—it was closed in 1990 because its tilt became too considerable, per Popular Science—with "oscillations now varying at the average of 1/2 millimeter a year," says Nunziante Squeglia, a professor of geotechnics at the University of Pisa.

"What counts the most is the stability of the bell tower, which is better than expected," adds Squeglia, who credits work to stabilize the structure on soft soil. A study published in May actually pointed out the importance of that soil in keeping Pisa's landmark upright. Essentially, the soft soil modifies ground vibrations—not uncommon in Italy, which sits on multiple fault lines—to prevent much motion in the tower, which has emerged undamaged from at least four strong earthquakes since 1280. "Ironically, the very same soil that caused the leaning instability and brought the Tower to the verge of collapse, can be credited for helping it survive these seismic events," an engineer says in a release. (Still, you may be underwhelmed.)

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