It’s a little-known fact that Nevada experiences thousands of earthquakes each year – most all of them being too small to feel. However, the potential for seismic activity in our region is likely, being that Reno sits on at least two faults that are capable of large and damaging earthquakes.
These circumstances perhaps paved the way for the founding of the University of Nevada’s own Earthquake Engineering Laboratory. Sizing in at 9,600 square feet, this innovative lab is home to three biaxial shake tables as well as a state of the art 6-degree-of-freedom table, culminating in a roughly $15 million investment.
Shake tables are virtually just as they sound – they are devices for reproducing or simulating ground motions to test vehicles, bridges and other structures for safety. These devices are critical in understanding why buildings and other structures have failed to withstand earthquakes in the past or may not hold up in the future.
Staying at the forefront of earthquake research capabilities, The Earthquake Engineering Laboratory is excited to introduce three new resources that are vital in the exploration of earthquakes and their affects on our infrastructure: Their enormous soil structure interaction shake table facility, their new initiative in advanced computer simulations, and their new initiative in intelligent infrastructure.
The soil structure interaction shake table facility will truly be a feat of engineering and innovation. This fifteen-foot tall and twenty-one-and-a-half-foot wide structure will be one of the largest in the world and also, the only one capable of shaking soil in two directions at the same time. This technology will enable researchers to better understand the relationship between structures and the soil they’re built on. Important constructs like nuclear facilities, massive bridges and city skyscrapers will all be designed and erected using important data accumulated at facilities like this one.
The advanced computer simulation allows researchers to take the motions from actual or simulated seismic activity and apply them to various structures. This enables engineers and scientists to analyze how well a proposed building would hold up during an earthquake and subsequently make design adjustments.
Lastly, the Earthquake Engineering Laboratory is thrilled to be delving into intelligent infrastructure. Researchers are taking advantage of rapid advances in sensor technology to gain real time feedback from a large structure during an earthquake. This new technology allows the stakeholders of a structure to quickly identify how well the structure performed during seismic activity and whether it sustained any damage.
There are so many fascinating experiments taking place within the walls of the Earthquake Engineering Lab housed at our own University of Nevada, Reno. As home to some of the greatest minds in the field, this lab is sure to amaze with a behind the scenes look at what’s being done to keep our structures safe and strong.
Learn more about The Earthquake Engineering Laboratory during NCET’s Tech Wednesday virtual networking event from 4:00 to 4:30 p.m. and its live streaming event from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. on April 14th. For more information, visit https://ncet.org/ncet-tech-wed-unr-earthquake-lab/
Dave Archer is president/CEO of NCET, which produces educational and networking events to help people explore business and technology. (www.NCET.org)