Masonry building survives quake test

April 15, 2009 at 12:32 PM
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SAN DIEGO, April 15 (UPI) -- U.S. engineering researchers say a one-story reinforced concrete masonry structure survived two days of intense simulated earthquake shaking.

University of California-San Diego scientists conducted the tests at the school's Englekirk Structural Engineering Center, which has the largest outdoor shake table in the world. The tests were part of a collaborative research project that included the University of Texas at Austin, Washington State University and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.

The structure with a clay masonry veneer was subjected to a series of simulated earthquakes, starting with a 5.0 magnitude and ending with an 8.0 magnitude jolt.

The researchers used the test to study the different types of shear reinforcement and different types of veneer connectors and how they react to earthquakes. Concrete masonry with clay masonry veneer is used for commercial construction throughout the United States.

"The goal of this test is to evaluate the current building code provisions and look at ways to improve the seismic safety of these kinds of structures," said University of California-San Diego Professor Benson Shing, co-principal investigator for the project.

Researchers will analyze the data collected from the tests to develop analytical models and use them to project the performance of such structures.

The $950,000 study, which included co-leader Professor Richard Klingner of the University of Texas at Austin, was funded by the National Science Foundation.

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