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2005 Tri-Center Field Mission to Greece

REU attendees in front of building

The Parthenon, which has withstood over 2500 years of earthquakes, offers many lessons to modern engineers and scientists.

More photos: 1 2 3 4 5

This 2005 NSF-sponsored Tri-Center Field Mission took a team of 13 students and 3 educators from MCEER, MAE and PEER  to Greece, the site of some of the oldest and greatest feats in structural and earthquake engineering. The team, led by Professor Reginald DesRoches (MAE), included four MCEER SLC members: Swagata Banerjee (UC Irvine), Dan Fenz (University at Buffalo), Marlon Hill (Florida A&M) and SLC Chairman Mike Pollino (University at Buffalo). The trip, which took place from July 5-13, was an enlightening study in contrast between ancient and modern technologies, with participants touring earthquake resistant structures ranging in age from 1 year to over 3000 years.

The six UB-MCEER participants in a group shot

MCEER 2005 Field Mission Participants, (left to right) Marlon Hill, Daniel Fenz, Swagata Banerjee and Michael Pollino, at the shake table facilities of the National Technical University in Athens.

The group’s first site visit was to the city of Patras, where they toured the recently completed Rion-Antirion Bridge and the University of Patras laboratory facilities. Professor Michael Fardis, a consultant on the bridge design, led the participants on a special tour that took them inside one of the bridge piers to examine the installation of massive fluid viscous dampers. Later that day, University of Patras Professor Nicos Makris presented his research to the team on the seismic resistance of ancient Greek columns and his efforts to reconstruct several columns in an ancient temple at Nemea to the team. The next day, field mission participants saw the subject of Makris’ work firsthand, and also visited seismically isolated railway bridges over the Corinth Canal on their return trip to Athens.

During their three days in Athens, the group gained an appreciation of Greek technology from ancient times to the present day through visits to the Parthenon, the National Archeological Museum and shake table facilities at the National Technical University. While at the National Archeological Museum, participants were joined by UB Professor Michael Constantinou to see the Mechanism of Antikithira, a 2100 year old mechanical computer. Later, Dr. Constantinou described the changes in building practice in typical urban reinforced concrete buildings from moment frame systems to shear wall type structures after a major earthquake struck Athens in 1999. The magnitude 5.9 earthquake destroyed nearly 700 structures and damaged over 2000 more in Athens and surrounding areas.

Students are now preparing reports focusing on different aspects of earthquake engineering based on new insights they gained from the Field Mission. More information and a photo journal of the trip will be posted on the SLC website ( The 2006 Field Mission is being planned by MCEER.

-submitted by Dan Fenz (University at Buffalo)

NSFwhite.gif (235 bytes)The Tri-Center Field Mission Program is sponsored by the three National Science Foundation Earthquake Engineering Research Centers:



MAE logo

MCEER logo

PEER logo

Mid-America Earthquake Center (MAE)

Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (MCEER)

Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center (PEER)


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