Don Clyde, engineer at the U.C. Berkeley Earthquake Simulator Laboratory, eyeballs his next test on the world's largest shake table.
The Earthquake Simulator Laboratory is the place where engineers go to find out how and where structures such as bridge supports, wood-framed houses, and high-voltage transformers fail under the kind of stress and strong motion that earthquakes generate. Tools such as the largest shake table in the world and a 4,000,000 lb. capacity Universal Testing machine push full-scale replicas of common construction elements to their limits. The evidence of failure or deformation is analyzed and then incorporated into design plans for a stronger and more safely built environment. The Hearst Mining Building (see below), a 92 year-old architectural prize also on the U.C. Berkeley campus, is currently undergoing a $66.7 million retrofit and seismic upgrade. The entire foundation will be reconstructed using state-of-the-art base isolation mounts. These 2 ton "shock absorbers" isolate the foundation of the building from the ground, allowing the earth to move independent of the building in the event of an earthquake.
The shake table "graveyard": tweaked Caltrans test pillars await their fate.
Just 800 feet away from the closely watched Hayward fault, the Hearst Mining Building is being retrofitted to rest on 134 base isolation mounts.
The isolaters await installation at a warehouse in Emeryville.

On the Road with the Faultline Project
©1999 Exploratorium