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Researchers test seismic resiliency using world’s largest shake table

Video by Research Communications and Public Relations

Earthquakes are a defining force of nature in areas like San Francisco, where it is often a question of when, not if, another will strike. Residents not only have to deal with billions in property damage loss, but also the emotional toll of losing a home with the uncertainty of when, if ever, they can return.

A team of researchers led by Maria Koliou, an assistant professor in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University, is conducting research into how residential wood-framed buildings are damaged from strong earthquakes, providing new insight into how to best build and repair infrastructure so that residents can move back into them as soon as possible.

The project involved a series of tests at the world’s largest shake table (E-Defense) in Japan in partnership with Japanese researchers led by Prof. Takuya Nagae from Nagoya University studying the impacts of earthquakes to the residential infrastructure in urban environments.  

This collaborative effort is part of a National Science Foundation (NSF) Rapid Response research project under the partnership of the NSF-funded Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure (NHERI) with Japan’s National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Resilience (NIED).

“This research provided a unique set of data on the performance of wood-frame structures and non-structural elements within them under strong earthquakes via use of advanced monitoring equipment from the NHERI RAPID Facility at the University of Washington within a well-controlled laboratory environment,” Koliou said. “This allows us to identify damage patterns, perform measurements, and see how damage occurs and propagates in these structures.”