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UC Researchers Simulate Fake Quakes To Test Structural Safety

SAN DIEGO (CBS) — If you've ever wondered whether the building you work in would be able to stand up to a massive earthquake, you may soon have your answer.

KNX 1070's Tom Reopelle reports researchers with the University of California San Diego have begun testing to learn how quakes affect even the most secure buildings.


Seismologists constructed a five-story hospital on top of what is known as a "shake table" that can simulate earthquakes ranging between 6.7 to 8.8 in magnitude.

The $5 million study will utilize a dozen cameras and sensors to measure the effectiveness of a new technology that deflects a quake's energy in order to prevent deaths and damage similar to the fallout from the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

Despite the shaking, nothing fell off the walls and the ceiling held up inside the artificial structure in an early test.

"If we can make it cost-effective, we might be able to apply this technology to more newer building and even retrofit some older buildings," said Richard McCarthy of the California Seismic Safety Commission.

Data from simulations conducted over the next few weeks will eventually be made available for public use in identifying any structural weakness ahead of an earthquake.

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