Thursday, October 1, 2009

Retaining Wall Earthquake Shake Test Oct 2 at UC San Diego

Structural engineering researchers expect severe damage to a retaining wall they will shake on October 2 at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.

Media interested in attending the shake test (10 a.m.-2 p.m.) or obtaining footage from the shake test should contact Andrea Siedsma at or 858-822-0899

WHERE: UCSD Englekirk Structural Engineering Center at Camp Elliot

The public may view the live tests via the Englekirk Center web cams at

Southwest view:

Northwest view:

The researcher leading this test is Dawn Cheng, Civil Engineering Professor, UC Davis. Cheng earned her PhD in structural engineering at UC San Diego in 2005.

The media advisory is pasted below:

WHAT: Witness a series of dramatic simulated earthquakes that will shake a retaining wall at the UC San Diego Englekirk Structural Engineering Center, which has the largest outdoor shake table in the United States. Hundreds of miles of retaining wall systems exist in the western United States. Their routine design for static applications has been practiced by many public and private sectors. However, the seismic design of these retaining walls has not been extensively developed and there are no accurate and reliable guidelines in the existing design codes and specifications.

This will be a second in a series of simulated shake tests on retaining wall systems by researchers at the Englekirk Center. During the first set of tests, performed in early September, researchers investigated the seismic response of a semi-gravity reinforced concrete cantilever wall. Researchers will now test the seismic response of a semi-gravity reinforced concrete cantilever wall with a sound barrier. The walls will be backfilled with typical Caltrans soil and supported on flexible foundation in a soil box. The outcome of this research, funded by Caltrans, will ensure that future retaining wall systems are designed to a higher performance standard and existing systems are upgraded and retrofit to offer satisfactory performance to provide a safe and mobile transportation system in California.

*During the tests, researchers will simulate ground motions based on the 1994 Northridge earthquake (6.7 magnitude); 1999 Kocaeli, Turkey quake (7.4 magnitude); and the 1995 Takatori, Japan quake (6.9 magnitude). Engineers will increase the ground motions for each test until the wall suffers major damage.

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