19, 2000, Gazette)
to offer earthquake simulation
C-CORE will expand
its industry consulting services to include earthquake engineering,
having received a near half-million dollar investment to enhance
its high-tech centrifuge facilities.
The research centre, housed at Memorial Universitys St.
Johns campus, will spend about $300,000 on a hydraulic
shaker, designed to simulate the impact of earthquakes on soil.
This sophisticated piece of equipment will be used in conjunction
with C-COREs Geotechnical Centrifuge Centre to provide
additional support services to resource-based industries throughout
Its not a trivial piece of machinery, said
Ryan Phillips, director of the centrifuge facilities. This
shaker will carry a half-tonne mass of soil (500 kilograms) in
a 100 g acceleration field. So if youre carrying a 50 tonne
weight, and to be able to stimulate earthquakes, typically of
a one hertz frequency, you have to be shaking that 50 tonnes
at 100 times a second.
Strong box containing a model
The C-CORE team provided engineering
support during the construction of the Confederation Bridge,
linking Prince Edward Island to the rest of the Maritime provinces,
and had input into Hibernias offshore GPS platform. Other
consulting services include iceberg management, remote sensing,
intelligent systems, geotechnical engineering and offshore pipeline
installation. Nearly 90 per cent of
C-COREs operations involve project-based consulting for
The Geotechnical Centrifuge Centre also provides industry-focused
training for MUN students. With the additional equipment, students
now have an opportunity to study and improve engineering designs
for soil-structures in earthquake-prone areas.
Although Atlantic Canada is not considered a high-risk area,
considerable threat exists in Western Canada and Quebec. Extreme
climate conditions also present specialized engineering challenges
for the offshore oil and gas industry. According to Dr. Phillips,
the only earthquake in Canada that resulted in the loss of human
life occurred in Newfoundland, on the Burin Peninsula in 1929
when an offshore earthquake triggered a tidal wave.
Centrifuge basket carrying a strong
box and model
The actuator, as the equipment
is known, provides a safe and controlled environment that will
serve as a test site for both the academic community and private
industry worldwide. These facilities will be one of a kind in
Canada. There are six such geotechnical facilities in the U.S.,
all heavily used by American companies, said Dr. Phillips.
Its a $5-million facility so not everyone can have
one, he said. But, Canadas problems should
be solved by Canadians. We do a series of tests with a
locally strengthened zone of soil and then we move the zone around
to determine the optimum placement, and how large the zone should
be to come up with the most effective foundation.
With the aid of a timer, Dr. Phillips can simulate the initial
sharp impact of an earthquake, as well as its aftershocks. One
of the biggest challenges for structural engineers in earthquake-affected
areas is the liquification of soil, he noted. This can endanger
life by destabilizing massive structures, including bridges,
buildings and offshore rigs.
Because it is such an infrequent, yet unpredictable event,
there are very few ways of verifying whether these (engineering)
designs are correct, except for physical or numerical simulation,
he said. Of course, now were able to do both.
Total facility contributions include a $279,000 NSERC grant,
a $51,000 CFI grant, as well as about $140,000 provided by C-CORE.
The NSERC major facilities access grant also provides technical
and lab support. It allows free access to any Canadian academic
institution conducting centrifuge-related research.