U.S.-Japan team to test resiliency of wooden structures during quakes

a church damaged by an earthquake

Researchers at Texas A&M University, in partnership with researchers in Japan, are investigating the resiliency of wood structures to create more reliable and robust infrastructure to withstand extensive damage from strong earthquakes.

This project is the first under the Japan-U.S. Network Opportunity mutual agreement, which was established over a five-year period for the fostering of U.S. and Japanese collaborative research.

Maria Koliou, an assistant professor in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering, College of Engineering, will serve as the principal investigator for a National Science Foundation-funded RAPID project, along with six other collaborators and co-principal investigators across the United States.

The team will be traveling early next year to carry out a series of tests on the seismic resilience of wood-framed structures on the largest earthquake defense (E-defense) shake table in the world in Miki City, Japan.

“In our role, this is a RAPID project, so the nature of the project is to collect time-sensitive data and plan potential payload tests for these wood buildings in collaboration with our Japanese colleagues,” Koliou said. “The ultimate goal is to use the knowledge from these tests to establish a holistic framework to evaluate the performance and recovery of wood residential buildings.”

The project will be the first of its kind to simulate and construct two full-scale houses with utility lines, soil conditions (under one of the houses) and pipelines. The testing will consist of different levels of simulated earthquake intensities on the E-defense shake table and a series of structural retrofits on the houses throughout the experiment.

“One part of our work will be to collect damage and restoration repair data using different levels of seismic intensity until a structure collapse occurs,” says Koliou. “The plan of the Japanese research team is to test both structures to collapse.”

The Japanese team will be administering the construction of the houses and leading the tests with Koliou and her team, helping collect time-sensitive data of the damage and repair process using advanced monitoring equipment. Koliou and her group will be using state-of-the-art advanced monitoring equipment to capture the damage and the repair restoration process for the structures. With this data, they hope to create more reliable infrastructure that can not only withstand damage from earthquakes,but will be conducive to building recovery and reconstruction efforts.

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