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MCEER-Supported Researchers Conduct Ground-breaking Earthquake Simulation Experiment at Cornell University  

FOR RELEASE: Aug. 17, 2000
Contact: David Brand
Office: (607) 255-3651
E-Mail: deb27@cornell.edu

links.gif (937 bytes)A More Complete Article on this Experiment is available at  Cornell's Web site

ITHACA, N.Y. -- To test the effects of earthquakes on gas pipelines, Cornell University and Tokyo Gas Co. have teamed up in the largest experimental facility of its kind ever constructed to see exactly what happens when the earth moves violently against an underground line.

Over the coming weeks in Cornell's Winter Laboratory, scientists from the two organizations, joined by earthquake expert Professor Masanori Hamada from Waseda University in Japan, will be simulating earthquake loads on four 30-foot-long steel, L-shaped gas pipelines -- made in Japan for use under Tokyo streets -- by pitting them against 60 tons of moving sand.

Cracks from simulated quake
During testing, the surface of 60 tons of shearing sand buckle and fissure, resembling the typical surface distortions following a real earthquake. Cornell News Service photo by David Brand. Copyright Cornell University

Thomas O'Rourke, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Cornell, and a member of MCEER's Research Committee,  is the principal researcher on the experiment, According to O'Rourke, "This test and simulation is a very significant step forward for the design of all underground piping. As we move piping into frontier situations, such as gas or oil transmission across the seafloor or mountain passes or earthquake-prone areas, we must gain a greater understanding of the extreme deformation behavior of these critical facilities."

This  collaborative gas pipeline experiment  is partially supported by the National Science Foundation's program for U.S.-Japan Cooperative Research in Urban Earthquake Disaster Mitigation and also by the Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Over the coming weeks in Cornell's Winter Laboratory, scientists from the two organizations, joined by earthquake expert Professor Masanori Hamada from Waseda University in Japan, will be simulating earthquake loads on four 30-foot-long steel, L-shaped gas pipelines -- made in Japan for use under Tokyo streets -- by pitting them against 60 tons of moving sand.

The results of the experiments will be used to draw up an earthquake-resistance design code for gas pipelines in Japan.


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