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MCEER Bulletin, Volume 25, Number 1, Spring/Summer 2011

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Volume 25, Number 1, 2011

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Seminar Series: Spring 2011 - Fall 2012


The Student Chapter of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (UB-EERI), the CSEE-Graduate Student Association (CSEE-GSA), MCEER, and the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering (CSEE) 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 webcast. They can be viewed at

Current Practice and Future Directions in Ground Motion Selection for Structural Analysis

Jack W. Baker, Assistant Professor, Stanford University – Dec. 1, 2011

Use of recorded ground motions for structural analysis is a subject receiving much attention by practitioners and researchers in the civil engineering community. In his talk, Baker illustrated challenges and opportunities for engineering use of ground motions. Typical selection procedures and uses of ground motions for analysis were described, as well as two tools used in analysis—the Uniform Hazard Spectrum and the newer Conditional Mean Spectrum.

Concrete For The Deepest Immersed Tube Tunnel

Yılmaz Akkaya, Associate Professor, Director of Marmaray Laboratory, Istanbul Technical University – Oct. 25, 2011

With an immersion depth reaching up to 60 m, the Marmaray Bosphorus Crossing Project in Istanbul is the deepest immersed tube tunnel in the world. Akkaya discussed several durability parameters that were evaluated in the laboratory at Istanbul Technical University to satisfy the minimum 100 years of service life criteria of the concrete structure.

The Tohoku Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of March 11, 2011

Wilfred D. Iwan, Emeritus Professor of Applied Mechanics, California Institute of Technology – Sept. 23, 2011

The Tohoku Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of March 11, 2011 will be remembered as one of the greatest natural disasters of recorded history. In this lecture, Iwan addressed questions related to the causes of this disaster, how well engineered structures behaved, and what, if anything, could have been done to mitigate the effects of such an earthquake and tsunami. He also discussed how this event may affect the future of seismicity and earthquake engineering.

Evolving Seismic Design from Ensuring Life Safety to Achieving High Seismic Performance

Constantin Christopoulos, Associate Professor, University of Toronto – April 27, 2011

Modern seismic design codes have promoted the concept of ductile structural systems over the past few decades to achieve cost-effective designs that ensure a significantly enhanced level of seismic safety. In this presentation, Christopoulos discussed the performance of the most ductile steel structures used in North America. He talked about the mechanics of the systems, experimental and numerical development work, response of buildings incorporating these systems, and design strategies/codification.

Dynamics of Urban Earthquake Risk

Stephanie E. Chang, Professor, University of British Columbia – April 22, 2011

Are our cities becoming safer due to advances in earthquake engineering? Or is risk growing as a result of societal factors such as population expansion and urban development? In order to understand the dynamics of seismic risk, it is necessary to examine the multiplicity of factors influencing the likelihood of earthquake losses and how these factors change over time. In her presentation, former MCEER investigator and 2011 EERI Distinguished Lecturer Stephanie E. Chang explored the question of how urban seismic risk is changing over time.

Clean Energy America

Will Cothen, Unit Supervisor, FirstEnergy – April 12, 2011

Clean Energy America (CEA) is comprised of a group of nuclear energy experts who volunteer their time to raise awareness about the benefits of nuclear energy as a clean, reliable and affordable source of energy. In this presentation, Cothen talked about the importance of adopting nuclear energy as a part of the energy portfolio of the United States as we strive to anticipate the needs of future generations and with the rising consumer costs we face today.

Infrastructure Damage from the 9/30/2010 (Mw7.1) and 2/21/2011 (Mw6.3) Christchurch, New Zealand Earthquakes

Michel Bruneau, Professor, and Myrto Anagnostopoulou, Structural and Test Engineer, SEESL, both of the University at Buffalo – March 31, 2011

On Sept. 3, 2010, a 7.1M earthquake struck the South Island of New Zealand, approximately 30 miles west of the city of Christchurch, close to the town of Darfield. On Feb. 21, 2011, a 6.3M earthquake struck the town of Lyttelton, approximately 6 miles southeast of Christchurch. Although smaller in magnitude, the February 2011 event resulted in a tragic disaster of more severe consequence than the September 2010 event. In this presentation, Bruneau and Anagnostopoulou discussed their preliminary findings on the structural behavior of bridges and steel buildings in New Zealand in the aftermath of both earthquakes.

Dubai’s Nakheel Tower and the Future of Tall Building Design

Ahmad Rahimian, Chief Executive, WSP Cantor Seinuk – March 25, 2011

Reaching over 1 kilometer in height, the Nakheel Tower is an efficient LEED-rated and sustainable building that combines offices, luxury residences, a hotel, observation facilities and more to create a vertical community of over 15,000 people. In this seminar, Rahimian explained how the tower’s structure and architectural form is the result of a convergence of influences which include the Arabic culture, desert environment, wind, light, redundancy, and, not least of all, gravity. He discussed the lessons learned from the construction of the tower and the implications for future super-tall buildings.

An Update on California’s Program to Seismically Strengthen Hospitals

William T. Holmes, Principal and Structural Engineer, Rutherford & Chekene – March 9, 2011

As a result of the 1971 San Fernando earthquake, the State of California took over control of new hospital construction in the state. In this presentation, Holmes, Chair of the NEES Nonstructural Practice Committee and longstanding partner in MCEER’s Strategic Partnerships Network, described the regulations that the State of California adopted since this time to seismically strengthen hospitals. He discussed the implementation issues that were faced, including the use of HAZUS to estimate relative risk of the nonconforming buildings. His lecture was part of EERI's Friedman Family Visiting Professionals Program.

Software for Measuring Disaster Community Resilience According to the PEOPLES Methodology

Gian Paolo Cimellaro, Assistant Professor, Politecnico di Torino – March 4, 2011

The PEOPLES Resilience Framework includes seven dimensions that describe different social, economic and engineering aspects as a method to understand the dynamics of natural disaster systems. Among these, the physical infrastructure dimension incorporates facilities and lifelines, as well as the transportation network. In this seminar, Cimellaro presented the concept of graph theory, which he demonstrated for road network topological characterization, while performance measures were provided to estimate the impact on end users following internal or external disruptions. He presented the first release of a software product based on the PEOPLES methodology.

Collapse Assessment of Steel Structures Under Extreme Earthquake Loading: Recent Advancements and Future Directions

Dimitrios G. Lignos, Assistant Professor, McGill University – Feb. 23, 2011

Over the past decade, significant effort has been devoted to understand the behavior of steel structures under extreme earthquake loading and to minimize the collapse potential of these structures designed based on modern seismic provisions. This presentation discussed recent advancements on the importance and simulation of cumulative damage effects of steel components for reliable collapse assessment of steel structures under severe earthquake shaking. Collapse mitigation strategies that affect key parameters in the design process of steel structures, as well as future directions to improve the state of knowledge on how to reliably assess collapse, were discussed.

Concept and Development of Post-tensioned Low-damage Solutions for Seismic Resistant Bridge Systems

Alessandro Palermo, Senior Lecturer in Structural Engineering, University of Canterbury – Jan. 13, 2011

In this presentation, Palermo extended the concept of post-tensioned low-damage solutions to bridge piers and systems in order to verify the efficiency and potentiality of these solutions for the seismic response. Critical aspects concerning construction technology, design and seismic response of bridge piers and/or systems were discussed. An overview was given of the extensive experimental campaign carried out at the University of Canterbury on these low-damage post-tensioned bridge piers and a comparison with the response of traditional monolithic R.C. solutions.