Reaching Others University at Buffalo - The State University of New York
Skip to Content
UB Reporter

Research News

Two-story building survives shake table test

Johns Hopkins earthquake simulation test

Researchers from The Johns Hopkins University programmed UB's shake tables to mimic ground forces felt during 1994’s catastrophic earthquake in Northridge, Calif.

By CORY NEALON

Published August 22, 2013

Video

The earthquake simulation conducted last week at UB.

“It is quite a sight to see a building get pushed around that hard that fast.”
Benjamin Schafer, professor and chair
Department of Civil Engineering, Whiting School of Engineering, The Johns Hopkins University

Early results from an earthquake simulation test last week at UB suggest that cold-formed steel buildings may be able to withstand major earthquakes.

The building, 120 feet long and 30 feet high, spanned two shake tables at UB’s Structural Engineering and Earthquake Simulation Laboratory (SEESL) in Ketter Hall. Researchers from The Johns Hopkins University, who led the experiment, programmed the shake tables to mimic the ground forces felt during 1994’s catastrophic earthquake in Northridge, Calif.

During the test, the shake tables violently jolted the building back and forth, causing cracks to interior and exterior walls. But the building, based on preliminary analysis, withstood the quake’s forces, according to principal investigator Benjamin Schafer, professor and chair of the Department of Civil Engineering in the Whiting School of Engineering at Johns Hopkins.

“The video does not do it justice, it is quite a sight to see a building get pushed around that hard that fast,” Schafer said in an email. “We have lots of data to process and the period of the building shifted post test, so damage was indeed imparted, but nothing near failure.”

Schafer chose to work at UB because it has the only earthquake simulation laboratory in the nation capable of performing the test, said Kara Peterman, a Johns Hopkins doctoral student who supervised the building’s construction.

The building will be disassembled during the next two weeks, she said. More details about the test can be found on Peterman’s blog: http://cfsnees.blogspot.com.