UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering University of California San Diego
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Jacobs School and National Laboratory Launch Education Partnership

A 70-foot-tall, wind turbine shook and shivered while it was subjected to historical ground motions from the 1992 magnitude 7.3 Landers earthquake, as Jacobs School structural engineers demonstrated the unique capabilities of the world's first outdoor shake table for testing full-scale buildings and structures.

The test was part of the November 15 grand opening for the National Science Foundation's George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES). NSF has invested $81.8 million in the network of large-scale seismic testing laboratories at 15 universities. Construction of the UCSD-NEES Outdoor Shake Table, located at UCSD's Elliott campus at Interstate 15 and Pomerado Road, was completed in September 2004.The $9 million facility was funded through a $5.9 million grant from the NSF as well as state, university, and private contributions.

"Our demonstration is a first step towards understanding how wind turbines are impacted by earthquakes, a question that will become increasingly important as California grows more reliant on renewable energy sources such as wind power," said José Restrepo, associate professor of structural engineering and principal investigator for the shake table.

At 25 ft. by 40 ft., the UCSD-NEES Outdoor Shake Table is the largest shake table in the United States. Researchers can now use the table to reproduce accurate near-fault ground motions, creating realistic simulations of the most devastating earthquakes.