Engineers with the University of California, San Diego and the University of Arizona recently finished a series of earthquake simulation tests — some as powerful as magnitude 8.0 — to study how buildings with precast concrete floor systems should be constructed in the future.

The simulations shook a half-scale three-story structure at the UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering’s Englekirk Structural Engineering Center, which lies about eight miles to the east of the main university campus.

Buildings with precast concrete are cast in parts and then put together at the site. Precast concrete floor systems are used in structures such as parking garages, college dormitories, hotels, stadiums, prisons and office buildings.

Here’s the university’s press release press release. Some clips:

The one-million pound precast concrete structure is the largest footprint of any structure ever tested on a shake table in the United States.

The results of the research are expected to be implemented into building codes across the United States within the next few years. The researchers and industry leaders hope that this project and others like it will help prevent the future failure of buildings, much like what happened during the 6.7 magnitude earthquake in Northridge in 1994, with the collapse of several precast parking structures.

The researchers said they haven’t yet come to a conclusion on their findings.


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