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UCSD ‘Shake Table’ Gets Major Federal Grant

The world's largest outdoor earthquake simulator is getting a financial boost from the National Science Foundation.

UC San Diego is getting more than $5 million over the next five years to run one of the world's largest earthquake simulators.

The outdoor "shake table" has been helping researchers measure the impact of quakes since it opened in 2004.

The device's size allows scientists to build realistic life-sized structures and then subject them to the same force meted out by the world's largest earthquakes.

In the past, scientists have built structures as tall as five stories on the table to see how buildings might withstand the force of a major earthquake.

Principal researcher Joel Conte said the facility's unique capabilities helped it stand out in the competition for the federal funding.

"We can test very tall structures. We are the largest outdoor shake table in the world," Conte said.

The simulator is already responsible for many improvements and building codes that result in safer buildings.

"We will be able now to continue to support the kind of research that we've been supporting, and make a big impact in the field of earthquake engineering and validate new technologies to protect the civil infrastructure against earthquakes," Conte said.

The facility is currently testing how cut-and-cover tunnels, or trenches that are roofed in to carry earth or infrastructure above, withstand temblors.

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Erik Anderson
Environment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI focus on the environment and all the implications that a changing or challenging environment has for life in Southern California. That includes climate change, endangered species, habitat, urbanization, pollution and many other topics.

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