Test & Measurement

Measuring the Force of Tsunami Debris on Large Structures

Debris that hits homes and other structures plays a major role in a tsunami's destructive power. With support from the National Science Foundation, engineers from across the country are carrying out a series of large-scale tests aimed at better understanding exactly what happens when debris strikes. The project has combined the Network for Earthquake Engineering (NEES) large-scale structures test facility at Lehigh University with the NEES Tsunami Research Facility at Oregon State University, and both provide the data for analytical work at the University of Hawaii. The engineers use the data to validate computer models designed to predict how different types of debris respond under the stress of impact. Their ultimate goal is to improve building designs, so structures are built to better withstand the forces generated from tsunami debris.