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Researchers Share Data of How Structures Hold Up In An Earthquake


An estimated 500,000 detectable earthquakes occur somewhere in the world each year. One hundred thousand of those can be felt, and 100 of them cause damage. Scientists now have a new tool to help them learn how buildings will react during an earthquake.

As the earth's population increases, so does the number of people who live along fault lines. In the United States, for example, 75 million people live in towns and cities at risk for earthquake devastation. Now scientists at 15 universities across the U.S. are conducting experiments on the impact earthquakes have on soil and building foundations.

At the University of California at Berkeley, researchers are putting this column under 1800 tons of pressure.

Professor Nick Sitari is collecting data to see how different structures hold up in an earthquake.

PROFESSOR NICK SITARI, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY, EARTHQUAKE ENGINEERING RESEARCH CENTER

"When we look at earthquake engineering, you know of course, you're always concerned with big structures, buildings, the Bay Bridge, something like that. Obviously, it's impossible to bring one of those buildings into the laboratory, or alternatively, to test it full scale."

So he tests it in a laboratory by using a new, high-powered seismic testing machine.

PROFESSOR NICK SITARI, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY, EARTHQUAKE ENGINEERING RESEARCH CENTER

"We can actually use several different laboratories to do experiments in at the same time."

The 15 universities involved in the experiment will share their test results. The goal is to improve the safety of buildings and bridges and the lifelines that hold American society together -- water, electricity, fuel lines and telecommunications cables -- so they can stand up to an earthquake.

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