2010

Electro-Hydraulic Motion Controller for Earthquake Simulation

How do you test the behavior of different soil structures in an earthquake? Obviously, large earthquakes don’t happen often, and they certainly don’t happen on cue. The solution, of course, is to model earthquakes in a laboratory environment. And that’s exactly what is being done by the Center for Geotechnical Modeling at the University of California, Davis. Since it’s not economical to simulate the forces of an earthquake on fullsize soil structures such as one would find beneath a real bridge or large building, physical models of much smaller size are used. In Figure 1, for example, is a model of the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit transbay tube that was recently tested in Davis The hydraulics that shake the model are mounted on the centrifuge arm (Figure 3). The shaking table that they act on is similar to those used in other laboratory research, except that it needs to operate in an accelerated G-field environment. Earthquake frequencies that are produced in real life typically range from less than 1 to around 10 Hz or more, but the shaking frequency needs to be scaled along with the G level in the model environment.

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