Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Simulated Earthquake to Test Building's Durability

The two-story building on West Commercial Avenue in El Centro, CA was built in the 1920s and has withstood four major earthquakes in 1940, 1979, 1987, and 2010 but it may not be standing for long.

That's because a research team that includes Babak Moaveni, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Tufts University School of Engineering, plans to shake and rumble the structure until it's on the verge of collapsing into a heap of debris and dust.

Moaveni is collaborating with Andreas Stavridis, assistant professor of civil engineering at the University of Texas-Arlington, on a National Science Foundation-funded study to assess how buildings made with reinforced concrete frames and masonry infill walls hold up during an earthquake. The data will also be used to refine existing analytical models and techniques that engineers use when evaluating seismic safety of similarly constructed buildings. The research team also includes engineers from the University of California, at Los Angeles (UCLA).

Thousands of such buildings exist in earthquake-prone places like Los Angeles, San Francisco, the Mediterranean and Latin America, and they are vulnerable to serious damage. "These buildings were built and designed years ago according to building codes that have since become outdated," says Moaveni.

Using an "Eccentric-Mass" Shaker to Rattle a Building

Typically, after an earthquake, owners of a building like the one on West Commercial Avenue would have the structure repaired and maybe retrofitted so that it could endure the next quake. But damage from the 2010 earthquake was so severe that repair was not worth the cost. Owners and the city officials decided to have it demolished.

That’s when Moaveni and Stavridis came forward. In the first phase of the project, the engineers will record the building's existing condition. Then, the team will install a spinning device called an eccentric-mass shaker on the building's roof. This device will induce further damage by simulating the pulsing and vibration of an earthquake rattling the structure from the top down. This has not been done before with an entire structure with that degree of damage. "We are glad that the building owners realized that the building’s misfortune has presented a unique research opportunity for us," Stavridis explains.

The researchers will install cameras at critical locations of the structures to observe damage as the test progresses. At specific intervals, they will also halt the shaker to assess and document structural damage, through visual inspection. Computers will also record data from sensors inside the building. With the initial measurements as a baseline, the researchers will evaluate and quantify progressive damage sustained by the building as it is shaken apart.

Field testing of full-scale structures using mechanical shakers plays an important role in this type of seismic research. In previous experiments, researchers have experimented on wall portions or sections of buildings using low-to-moderate levels of vibrations. "This is a very challenging project but a great research opportunity because we are working with an entire existing building," says Moaveni.

In their project, Moaveni and Stavridis plan to exert large-amplitude forces on the building. "We don't know if we will shake the building until it collapses," Moaveni says. "But, at a minimum, we will shake it until it is on the verge of collapse."

About Tufts School of Engineering
Located on Tufts' Medford/Somerville campus, the School of Engineering offers a rigorous engineering education in a unique environment that blends the intellectual and technological resources of a world-class research university with the strengths of a top-ranked liberal arts college. Close partnerships with Tufts' excellent undergraduate, graduate and professional schools, coupled with a long tradition of collaboration, provide a strong platform for interdisciplinary education and scholarship. The School of Engineering’s mission is to educate engineers committed to the innovative and ethical application of science and technology in addressing the most pressing societal needs, to develop and nurture twenty-first century leadership qualities in its students, faculty, and alumni, and to create and disseminate transformational new knowledge and technologies that further the well-being and sustainability of society in such cross-cutting areas as human health, environmental sustainability, alternative energy, and the human-technology interface.

Alex Reid | Newswise Science News
Further information:

More articles from Architecture and Construction:

nachricht Brilliant decorative solid-state thin films for metallic coverings and facades
21.09.2015 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Organische Elektronik, Elektronenstrahl- und Plasmatechnik FEP

nachricht Smarter window materials can control light and energy
23.07.2015 | University of Texas at Austin

All articles from Architecture and Construction >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New Sinumerik features improve productivity and precision

EMO 2015, Hall 3, Booth E06/F03

  • Drive optimization called automatically by the part program boosts productivity
  • Automatically switching the dynamic values to rapid traverse and interpolation...

Im Focus: LZH presents additive manufacturing at the LABVOLUTION

The Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will present how laser-based technologies can contribute to the laboratory of the future at the LABVOLUTION in Hannover in Hall 9, Stand E67/09, from October 6th to 8th, 2015. As a part of the model lab smartLAB, the LZH is showing how additive manufacturing, better known as 3-D printing, can make experimental setups more flexible.

Twelve partners from science and industry are presenting an intelligent and innovative model lab at the special display smartLAB. A part of this intelligent...

Im Focus: New polymer creates safer fuels

Before embarking on a transcontinental journey, jet airplanes fill up with tens of thousands of gallons of fuel. In the event of a crash, such large quantities of fuel increase the severity of an explosion upon impact.

Researchers at Caltech and JPL have discovered a polymeric fuel additive that can reduce the intensity of postimpact explosions that occur during accidents and...

Im Focus: 3-D printing techniques help surgeons carve new ears

When surgical residents need to practice a complicated procedure to fashion a new ear for children without one, they typically get a bar of soap, carrot or an apple.

To treat children with a missing or under-developed ear, experienced surgeons harvest pieces of rib cartilage from the child and carve them into the framework...

Im Focus: Walk the line

NASA studies physical performance after spaceflight

Walking an obstacle course on Earth is relatively easy. Walking an obstacle course on Earth after being in space for six months is not quite as simple. The...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

EHFG 2015: Securing healthcare and sustainably strengthening healthcare systems

01.10.2015 | Event News

Conference in Brussels: Tracking and Tracing the Smallest Marine Life Forms

30.09.2015 | Event News

World Alzheimer`s Day – Professor Willnow: Clearer Insights into the Development of the Disease

17.09.2015 | Event News

Latest News

Infrared thermography can detect joint inflammation and help improving work ergonomics

02.10.2015 | Medical Engineering

Semiconductor nanoparticles show high luminescence in a polymer matrix

02.10.2015 | Materials Sciences

New Sinumerik features improve productivity and precision

02.10.2015 | Trade Fair News

More VideoLinks >>>