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Engineered for Earthquakes: Preparing for the Next Big One

Figure 1: Cars on Top of Bridge

"The research project was 100 percent successful. There’s no question—we wouldn’t be doing these kinds of tests without National Instruments technology. All data was collected accurately and then processed and stored as required. Due to the size and cost of this one experiment, everything has to work perfectly every time you push the ‘start’ button, and NI hardware and LabVIEW helped us do exactly that."

- Dr. Patrick Laplace, Ph.D., University of Nevada, Reno

The Challenge:
At the Earth’s surface, earthquakes manifest by shaking and sometimes displacing the ground. It is estimated around 500,000 earthquakes occur each year that are detectable with current instrumentation, and about 100,000 of those can be felt. Additionally, this natural phenomenon is inherently unpredictable. Therefore, to ensure humans remain safe during earthquakes, it is important to determine how man-made structures, such as bridges, will behave under stresses caused by earthquakes.

The Solution:
To simulate live loads on bridges under seismic conditions, University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), researchers constructed a lab with a to-scale curved bridge on hydraulic shakers with six pick-up trucks filled with 2 tons of sand on top of the bridges.

Read the Full Case Study

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