SAN DIEGO--July 11 was a slow day for earthquakes in southern California--except at the Powell Structural Research Laboratory at the University of California at San Diego, where a magnitude-6.7 temblor battered and bruised a $400,000 experimental home. Built atop a giant shake table, the two-story, fully furnished wood-frame house rode out the simulated earthquake surprisingly well, but the building¿s contents were reduced to a shambles.
Part research, part public education and part silly-season entertainment, the event was covered live on several television channels and on the Internet (video clips are available at www.curee.org). Beforehand, principal investigator Andr¿ Filiatrault explained that the shake test was part of a $7-million project, funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to assess and improve the seismic behavior of wood-frame buildings--the kind in which nearly all Californians live. Such buildings sustained $12 billion in damage during the 1994 Northridge earthquake.
This article was originally published with the title Riding the Rumble.