makeover scheduled for UC Berkeley seismic testing facility
Catherine Zandonella, Media Relations
- The earthquake simulation facility at the University of
California, Berkeley's Richmond Field Station is about to
get a 21st century makeover, one that will allow researchers
around the world to perform quake tests there via the Internet.
wireless sensors and other high-tech tools will be installed
later this year thanks to a $4.2 million grant from the National
Science Foundation (NSF) announced this week. With these additions,
researchers can create and monitor tests that are more realistic
than ever before.
conduct seismic tests, cameras mounted throughout the testing
bay will track the course of the experiments and a mobile
robot will serve as a stand-in for researchers at distant
locales. Wireless sensors will record the movements and deformations
of the test item and feed the information to computers.
and sensors will monitor a massive new testing apparatus -
a 42-foot tall stack of concrete blocks called a reaction
wall. The wall can apply quake-like forces to test full-size
structures such as the welded joints used in steel buildings
that cracked after the 1994 Northridge earthquake or the concrete
columns supporting a double-deck freeway.
test equipment will greatly enhance the capabilities of the
Richmond facility, already one of the major earthquake testing
facilities in the country, said Jack Moehle, professor of
civil engineering and director of the Pacific Earthquake Engineering
Research Center, a consortium of western universities.
testing facility will solve a major challenge in earthquake
engineering: how to simulate the movement of a complex structure
like a tall building or a long bridge, where many parts can
be mathematically modeled using a computer, while a few parts
are so complex that they must be modeled using real-life tests.
With the new system, said Bozidar Stojadinovic, UC Berkeley
assistant professor of civil engineering, the tests will all
be connected into one virtual simulation, one that is both
more economical and more realistic.
a test, powerful computer algorithms will calculate how strong
and fast the test forces need to be given the earthquake that
is being simulated. "Our virtual laboratory will be able to
assess, more reliably than ever before, the seismic safety
of large structures such as bridges, electrical power facilities,
and high-rise buildings," said Stephen Mahin, professor of
civil engineering at UC Berkeley.
was awarded by the NSF's George E. Brown, Jr. Network for
Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) program, which is
spending $81.9 million to improve the seismic design and performance
of the U.S. civil and mechanical infrastructure.