Researchers studying whether wood can stand up to Mother Nature's worst earthquakes

Engineers put wooden buildings through 6.7 quake
Posted at 9:38 PM, Jul 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-15 00:55:59-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV)-- Researchers put a two-story building through one of the worst earthquakes ever Friday to see if the unique wooden design could become the future standard for construction in earthquake zones.  They said California building standards are doing a good job of protecting people during earthquakes but buildings still sustain damage.  They’re working on protecting the actual buildings during earthquakes.

“Not only protecting people’s lives but also making sure that when you buy or you’re going to buy you’re not getting damage in the earthquakes. You can go to work tomorrow,” said UCSD Structural Engineer Jose Restrepo, Ph.D.

Engineers from UC San Diego, the Colorado School of Mines, and other universities across the country met at UCSD’s famous shake table this week.  Friday, the put a two-story wooden structure through the same 6.7 quake that shook Northridge, CA in 1994.

“Nobody has ever done that so this is totally a new animal. We have to test it out,” said lead researcher Shiling Pei, Ph.D. from the Colorado School of Mines.

Dr. Pei said he was satisfied with the early tests of the wooden design, which allows the building to absorb much of the Earth’s shaking but return the building to its original position.

“We want to build a really damage free building so that people can actually have a home to return to,” he said.

The same researchers will return by 2020 to test a 10-story version of their wooden structure.