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UC San Diego Earthquake Simulator Getting Upgrade

A container full of sand sits on the outdoor UCSD earthquake simulator. The c...

Photo by Katie Schoolov

Above: A container full of sand sits on the outdoor UCSD earthquake simulator. The container's composition allows researchers to test metal pilings on Feb. 23, 2016.

The nation’s largest outdoor earthquake simulator, located in San Diego, is getting a $16.3 million makeover.

The University of California San Diego’s shake table has helped researchers design buildings and other structures that are more capable of surviving earthquakes.

Scientists have built buildings as tall as six stories on the outdoor platform and added simulations that replicated the force of some of history’s most damaging temblors, like the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

The upgrade is being paid for by the National Science Foundation.

Once installed, the upgrades will add capabilities that don’t currently exist.

“We have currently what we call horizontal actuators and we need to double that and add two more so that they can be designed in a V configuration and be moved in multiple directions. We also have to add some servo valves that will allow us to get the vertical motion,” said Lelli Van Den Einde, UCSD teaching professor.

The upgrade will improve the table and it allows the shaker to move in any direction, including up and down. That will make tests on the shake table more demanding and more realistic.

“It’s now going to allow us to do it under realistic ground motions that actually move in multiple degrees of freedom instead of just one direction. And so this will enable us to test conditions that we may not have seen if we’re just testing in one dimension,” said Van Den Einde.

The shake table will shut down for a year-and-a-half beginning in February 2020 so the upgrades can be installed.

UCSD is also upgrading the table’s power supply so it will be capable of driving the complex machine.

UCSD earthquake simulator is getting a multi-million dollar upgrade soon.

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