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Shakedown for quake-resistant building.

Inside a carernous laboratory in San Diego, engineers and architects will construct a five-story building this fall and then try to shake it apart. The simulated earthquake will test how new building practices might hold up during the real thing, says co-principal investigator Nigel Priestly, an engineer at the University of California, San Diego.

The experiment will cap a six-year joint project in which U.S. and Japanese investigators are examining reinforced masonry structures. This type of construction, often seen in hotels and apartment buildings, uses concrete blocks or other masonry units strengthened by steel rods.

The researchers will replicate quakes in slow motion by pushing on the building with hydraulic pistons. As the system mimics larger and larger tremors, sensors within the building will monitor the stresses that rip apart joints and crack walls and floors. The strongest of the shocks will simulate the shaking that might occur during a magnitude 8 earthquake. If all goes according to plan, Priestly says, the structure should emerge bruised but not destroyed.
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Title Annotation:simulated earthquake to test new building practices
Publication:Science News
Date:Jun 1, 1991
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