Seismic test of 7-story building will be world's largest quake simulation on wood

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Washington, July 10 (ANI): A team of researchers is all set to perform the largest earthquake simulation ever attempted on a wooden structure, with a seven-story building planned to be tested on the world's largest shake table in Japan.

A multi-university team, led by Colorado State University, has placed a seven-story building - loaded with sensing equipment and video cameras - on a massive shake table, and will expose the building to the force of an earthquake that hits once every 2,500 years.

The experiment, which will be Webcast live on Tuesday, July 14, should yield critical data and insight on how to make wooden structures stronger and better able to withstand major earthquakes.

"Right now, wood can't compete with steel and concrete as building materials for mid-rise buildings, partly because we don't have a good understanding of how taller wood-framed structures will perform in a strong earthquake," said Michael Symans, associate professor in Rensselaer's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

"With this shaking table test, we'll be collecting data that will help us to further the development of design approaches for such structures, which is one of the major goals of the project," he added.

The shake table experiment will offer researchers a chance to better understand how wood reacts in an earthquake, and the resulting data could lead to the advancement of engineering techniques for mitigating earthquake damage.

"As the ground shakes, the energy that goes into a building needs to flow somewhere," Symans said.

Typically, a large portion of this energy is spent moving - and damaging - the building.

There are proven engineering techniques for absorbing or displacing some of this energy in order to minimize damage, but the technology for doing so has not yet been thoroughly evaluated for wooden structures.

Next week's shake should produce sufficient data to allow the research team to develop accurate computer models of mid-rise wood buildings, which can subsequently be used to advance and validate some of these seismic protection techniques.

"The system allows a significant portion of the wood-frame displacement to be transferred to the dampers where the energy can be harmlessly dissipated," Symans said.

"With dampers in place, we have a better ability to predict how a structure will react to and perform during an earthquake," he added. (ANI)

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