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Seminar Series

The EERI student chapter of the University at Buffalo (UB-EERI), the MCEER Student Leadership Council, the Networking and Education Programs of MCEER, and the University at Buffalo’s Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering jointly sponsor a series of seminars on a variety of topics related to earthquake hazard mitigation. The purpose of the seminar series is to widen accessibility to timely, technical presentations by students, researchers, visitors and affiliates of MCEER. All seminars are held at the University at Buffalo, and most are broadcast over the Internet in real-time. They can be viewed on the MCEER SLC web site, which also includes a biography, abstract and full-length review, at

Estimation of Seismic Acceleration Demands on Nonstructural Components for Performance Based Design

Eduardo Miranda, Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University, December 3, 2004

Eduardo Miranda's presentation summarized recent research aimed at improving the estimation of acceleration demands in buildings, with emphasis on understanding the main variables controlling the amplitude and characteristic of seismic demands on building nonstructural components through simplified methods. Dr. Miranda evaluated the accuracy of the simplified method by comparing floor acceleration demands computed with it to those computed with response history analyses of detailed finite element models of two generic buildings and those recorded in many instrumented buildings in California. He also discussed current code provisions and possible improvements.

Object-oriented Image Understanding and Post-earthquake Damage Assessment

Luca Gusella, Ph.D. candidate in Geodetic and Topographic Sciences, University of Bologna, Italy, November 12, 2004

Luca Gusella discussed the use of very high-resolution (VHR) satellite imagery (Quick Bird and Ikonos) as an important source of spatial information after an earthquake, its use in post-event emergency response, and later on, for understanding the effects of shaking on buildings and other key infrastructure. The presentation discussed research on images taken after the Bam, Iran earthquake of December 26, 2003, some of which was conducted at the University of Bologna, and some while visiting the United States. His presentation included the following topics: image pre-processing procedures, data fusion techniques, object oriented analysis, including image understanding, and change detection analysis of objects in the real world, including application to Bam, Iran earthquake.

Seismic Cracking and Sliding Response of Gravity Dams: Numerical Analysis and Experimental Observations

Pierre Léger, Ph.D., P.E., and Professor, Department of Civil Engineering - Structural Division, École Polytechnique de Montréal, November 8, 2004

Dr. Leger began his presentation with an overview of historical seismic damage to concrete dams. He then discussed structural analysis methodologies to assess the seismic cracking and sliding responses of concrete gravity dams, related computer programs, and experimental validation work that was developed at cole Polytechnique. He gave a detailed example of shake table experiments conducted on concrete gravity dams, comparing results with finite element simulations. He then discussed the effectiveness of post-tension anchors on the seismic stability of concrete dams, and described a progressive approach to seismic safety that should be used to evaluate them. He ended his talk with an overview of research work currently underway at cole Polytechnique.

An Introduction to MCEER and the SLC for New Students and an Overview of the Seismic Design Competition for Undergraduates

Andre Filiatrault, Ph.D., P.E., Professor, and Deputy Director of MCEER, and Jeffrey Berman, Ph.D. Candidate and Student Leadership Council Chair, October 29, 2004

Andre Filiatrault provided an overview of research performed within the context of MCEER, headquartered at UB and involving 17 participating institutions. The role of students, both graduate and undergraduate, in helping the Center achieve its goal of seismically resilient communities was discussed, as were research opportunities for students. The MCEER Student Leadership Council, an organization composed of students performing MCEER research, was explained by Jeffrey Berman, and its activities, ranging from attending conferences to performing education and outreach activities to coordinating this seminar series, were highlighted. Information was provided on how interested students can get involved. The seminar concluded with an overview of the Student Leadership Council's newly launched Seismic Design Competition for Undergraduates, which will be held on January 29, 2005, at the University at Buffalo.

The NTU-MINDEF Protective Technology Research Centre and Performance Assessment of Reinforced Concrete Structures in Blast Environments

Dr. Tso-Chien Pan, Professor and Director, NTU-MINDEF Protective Technology Research Centre, and Dr. Bing Li, Associate Professor, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, May 25th, 2004

Dr. Tso-Chien Pan began with an overview of the interdisciplinary Protective Technology Research Center (PTRC) that was established by China's Ministry of Defense (MINDEF) and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU). PTRC provides a platform for synergistic R&D programs involving both numerical simulations and experimental investigations on the effects of high-intensity transient dynamic loading on soil and rock media, as well as on structural components and systems. Many of PTRC's projects have been on dynamic explosion and blast, which have implications to civil defense and terrorism. He then discussed PTRC's project on the development of underground space for civil and military uses, featuring the storage of strategic materials in caverns and tunnels built within the Bukit Timah granite and Jurong Formation.

Noting the increase in terrorist activity throughout the world, Dr. Li then presented results from ongoing research done at Nanyang Technological University to develop more rational design guidelines to enhance the survivability of structures subjected to blast loading.

Seismic Risk Mitigation of Operational and Functional Components of Buildings: “The Tough Nut To Crack”

Jay Lewis, MBA, President, Terra Firm Earthquake Preparedness, Inc., May 4, 2004

Jay Lewis began his presentation on seismic risk mitigation of operational and functional components (OFCs) of buildings by explaining that, despite risks such as loss of life, injuries, fire damage, and business interruptions leading to major economic disruptions on the corporate, municipal, and national level, not much progress has been made in OFC mitigation in the past 40 years. This is in part because the thousands of components that need to be restrained pose a significant challenge to planners and engineers. He then explained that British Columbia's recent $133 million seismic mitigation initiative helped take OFC mitigation to a higher level, describing how Terra Firm has organized the process into steps and automated it.

Seismic Design of Non-Structural Components

Scott Campbell, Ph.D., P.E., Chief Structural Engineer, Kinetics Noise Control, April 8, 2004

Scott Campbell began his presentation by noting that the seismic design of non-structural components has recently become a topic of interest to researchers and code officials. He then presented an overview of the issues involved in the design of seismic restraint for non-structural components, beginning with background information on the development of current standards and their implication for design. He included the development of an example problem that illustrates the critical issues, and reviewed examples of different restraint types, making recommendations for improving the design process.

The Bulletin is a free publication offering articles on Center research, cooperative ventures, reports from conferences, educational activities, upcoming events, and reviews of new MCEER publications Spring 2004

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