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NEES Community Update - August 2012

Research News
In the Network
Outreach News

2012 Upcoming Events

September 9
Using Earthquake Field Data in Research and Education Workshop presented by NEES@UCSB 
Read more …

September 24-28
15th World Conference on Earthquake Engineering
Read more …

October 1
Registration Closes for "Blast Response of Reinforced Concrete Slab Blast Blind Simulation Contest"

Registration is open now!  Read more …

October 18
The Great Shakeout

"Planned Earthquake Drill" Anyone in Arizona, Alaska, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington and Southeast states are encouraged to participate, from a single individual at their home to a major company at the office.  Register today! 

Do other states have a planned drill?  YES!  Check the website for details and plan your earthquake drill today.

Director's Letter

Excelling in earthquake engineering research and expanding community outreach

While reflecting on this year’s Quake Summit 2012, it is clear that NEES is focused on it’s mission to accelerate improvements in seismic design and performance by serving as an indispensable collaboratory for discovery and innovation.  NEES community’s impact is helping to further the mission of reducing the impact on society of earthquakes and tsunamis.  The mission for NEES aligns with The National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) Strategic Plan for 2009 – 2014. This plan outlines the role that NEES plays in the national strategy for increasing the resilience of the United States.

The NEES priorities are to:

  • Support research and engineering efforts that lead to Performance-Based Design
  • Support efforts of the research and practicing community to develop techniques for evaluating and rehabilitating the built environment
  • Support efforts of the NEES community to develop the next generation of scientists and engineers focused on earthquake and tsunami risk reduction

Our ultimate stakeholder is the general public, but more specifically the individuals and communities that are at risk of losing life or property as a result of earthquakes and tsunamis. Today, we are reaching out to new earthquake partners along with our community network members.  We hope you will find value in learning more about the NEES network through this brief monthly update where you will find news about work conducted in NEES as well as its impact on society.  The information may be in the form of:

  • New research data and databases
  • Improved design methods and construction techniques
  • Publications resulting from NEES work
  • Improvements to our cyber-platform for collaboration, NEEShub at
  • Contributions from the community in the form of simulation models and techniques
  • Education and outreach efforts to accelerate the transfer of research to practice, and many others

If new audience members wish to elect out of receiving future monthly updates, please use the unsubscribe button located at the bottom of our newsletter.

Learn more below about recent research news, NEES network updates, and outreach activities.


Julio Ramirez
NEES Chief Officer and NEEScomm Center Director



Levee Soil Research Continues

Testing resumed this month in California’s Delta with NEES@UCLA and PI Scott Brandenberg, UCLA Associate Professor, researching the levee’s underlying soil.   The objective of the testing was to measure the seismic response of the peat soil that underlies many of the levees in the delta.   There is little knowledge currently about how it might behave in an earthquake.  The levees on Sherman Island were built over 150 years ago and are instrumental to the water distribution that delivers fresh water to southern and central California. Brandenberg’s team was able to successfully collect soil and data samples to study and share with the earthquake engineering community.  Look for Brandenburg’s data on and also visit NEES@UCLA web page for more details on the project.

View the news coverage on the recent test.


NEES Research Earns Reese Prize

What took years to accomplish with the planning, prior modeling tests, and in collaboration across NEES equipment sites and partnership with E-Defense in Japan, the NEESwood Capstone project, “Development of a performance-based Seismic Design Philosophy for Mid-Rise Woodframe Construction” earns Principal Investigator John van de Lindt from Colorado State University and his research team the 2011 Raymond C. Reese Research Prize by the America Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).   The Raymond C. Reese Research Prize is awarded annually to a notable achievement in research related to structural engineering, with special consideration for how the research can be used.

The NEESWood Capstone project was developed to test new design methods for multistory, wood-frame buildings during large seismic events, and featured a seven-story, 40- by 60-ft. condominium tower with 23 one- and two-bedroom living units and two retail shops on the ground level. The test was also intended to provide a landmark data set to the seismic engineering research community.

Details and supporting data of the NEESWood Capstone project is located in the Project Warehouse on  A video of the test on Japan’s E-Defense shake table is located on YouTube.

Photo Credit: John van de Lindt


NEES@UCSB Wildlife Liquefaction Array Captures Significant Data from Recent Earthquake Swarm in Imperial Valley

The NEES@UCSB’s Wildlife Liquefaction Array (WLA) facility just happens to be the closest seismic station to the recent earthquake swarm in the Imperial Valley of Southern California. Located just below the Salton Sea and the southern most terminus of the San Andreas Fault, the WLA facility was designed to capture large ground shaking and excess pore water pressure that leads to liquefaction during earthquakes. 

This particular earthquake sequence, located only 10km from the facility, included four earthquakes between M4.6 to M5.5, and provided a set of ground motion and pore pressure observations that far exceeded previous levels seen at this site. The ground motion levels ranged from 0.1 to 0.4g from these four events. While the site did not experience complete liquefaction during these events, the pore pressure increase reached ~50% of the weight of the soil above at the top of the liquefiable layer, bringing the site halfway to liquefaction. The dense array of pore pressure and accelerometer instrumentation throughout the layer is providing unprecedented detail on the behavior of saturated soils during strong shaking. 

These observations will be used by researchers to improve earthquake simulation capabilities that include the effect of excess pore water pressure during earthquakes, and to improve liquefaction susceptibility hazard mapping.

View larger map.  The map is of the Epicentral Region in the Imperial Valley, Southern California showing the location of recent seismicity and the NEES@UCSB Wildlife Liquefaction Array.  According to Dr. Jamie Steidl, NEES@UCSB, the four larger events occurred over a 9 hour period on Sunday, August 26, 2012.  "The swarm continues to be active, producing erathquakes at a rate far above the normal background seismicity level, and is expected to continue through the week and perhaps longer," said Steidl.

News coverage of NEES@UCSB Sensors

Photo Credit: Jamie Steidl, University of California, Santa Barbara


China-US Collaboration Further Develops

3rd Workshop on China-US Collaboration for Disaster Evolution/Resilience of Civil Infrastructure and Urban Environment

The most recent “3rd Workshop on China-US Collaboration for Disaster Evolution/Resilience of Civil Infrastructure and Urban Environment,” sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the National Natural Science Foundation of China, brought together researchers from both countries to Richmond Field Station located at University of California, Berkeley on August 13-14, 2012.   What began in 2010, the China-US Collaboration for Disaster/Resilience of Civil Infrastructure and Urban Environment has now resulted in 6 new joint projects strengthening the partnership to improve the disaster evolution/resilience of civil infrastructure and urban environment in both countries and around the world.

The meeting was built on the outcomes of the two previous collaborative workshops. 
In addition to 6 keynote lectures from China and US representatives, participants engaged in working
sessions structured around the topics of Simulation and Monitoring.   These collaborations have resulted in 6 new joint projects funded by NSF and NSFC.  Details of the projects and a final
report of the third workshop will be shared via the NEEShub in the near future.  In the meantime, final reports for both previous workshops can be found at

Read More ...


ACI Database Now Available on NEEShub

The ACI 445 Punching Shear Collected Databank is now available for researchers and features a database created by The American Concrete Institute Committee 445C in an effort led by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. NEEScomm partnered with ACI to offer registered NEEShub users data that can help engineers understand the fundamentals of slab-column interaction.

The data presented were obtained from tests of reinforced concrete slabs loaded statically to simulate concentric slab punching due to gravity loads. The data are fundamental in understanding the resistance of slabs to punching shear, which is critical in structures in regions of both low and high seismicity. The data, from over 500 static tests dating as far back as 1938, were compiled and vetted by ACI committee 445C. The ACI 445 Punching Shear Collected Databank contains information on material properties, modes of failure, reinforcement details, support conditions, shape of slab and more; and, allows for rapid searching, sorting. The information can be easily downloaded for analysis on your computer.

The Project Warehouse on the NEEShub is the NEES central data repository for sharing and publishing earthquake engineering research data from experimental and numerical studies. In addition to displaying research data from specific research projects in the Project Warehouse, the NEEShub features under the tab of Tools and Resources a database resource that allows for a new way of displaying research data.


2012 NEES REU Students Make Outstanding Research Contributions

The Young Researchers Symposium (YRS) held at Stanford University August 16-17, 2012 culminated the very successful 2012 NEES Research Experience for Undergraduates (NEES REU) program that hosted 32 undergraduate engineering students from around the country at NEES labs.  Two examples of outstanding contributions include Jessica Stratton, a student from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, analyzed 1135 videos produced during the testing of the five-story building on the UCSD shake table to document effects on the structural and nonstructural components of the building. Timothy Lamere, a student from University of Massachusetts Amherst, analyzed data collected at the Garner Valley Downhole Array (GVDA) between December 2010 and June 2012 and developed correlations between shear wave velocity, water table depth and average temperature.

Prof. Greg Deierlein opened the symposium with a keynote talk on his NEES research related to controlled rocking of steel frame buildings. Next four graduate students from Stanford’s John A. Blume Earthquake Engineering Center presented their research. The Blume Center then hosted the REU students for a series of poster sessions to present the results of their summer projects.  Projects ranged from hybrid simulation to elastomeric dampers to tsunami debris impacts.

REU students and coordinators evaluated all of the poster presentations resulting in the following awards:

Best of Session: Andrew Lopes (Cornell University, session A), Abigail Mitchell (Lafayette College, session B), Jessica Stratton (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, session C), Jasmin Sadegh (Tufts University, session D)
Best Layout: Eugenia Tai (San Jose State University)
Best Graphics: Eugenia Tai (San Jose State University)
Best Overall: Emily Stinson (Princeton University)

Final poster and reports are archived and now available.  Thank you to the following NEES sites for hosting students this last summer:  Buffalo, Lehigh, Illinois, Oregon State, UN Reno, UC Santa Barbara, UCLA, and UC San Diego.

About | The NEESreu is a dynamic 10-week summer research program for upper division undergraduate students interested in civil engineering, computer science/engineering, seismic risk mitigation, or engineering education. Each student is assigned to a project that contributes to the goals of an existing NEES research project or to development cyberinfrastructure tools and/or educational modules.

Photo Credit: Alicia Lyman-Holt, Oregon State University


CA Academy of Sciences exhibit "EARTHQUAKE"

Now open at the CA Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, a new exhibit called "EARTHQUAKE: Life on a Dynamic Planet," explores the seismic science that has shaped Earth’s evolution and continues to impact our lives today.

 A key feature of the new exhibit is the Earthquake planetarium show, in the largest all-digital planetarium in the world, including footage filmed at the NEES@Berkeley equipment site.  The show explores the forces that transform the earth's surface by examining the San Andreas Fault and San Francisco’s 1906 earthquake.  The show concludes with a focus on how engineers today help buildings resist earthquake shaking safely and highlights the benefits of earthquake resisting features, such as seismic isolation. 

The NEES@Berkeley staff and researchers worked closely with the California Academy of Sciences to film the seismically isolated two-bay, two-story specimen based on recent research by PEER Director Stephen Mahin for the NEEStips project that was being tested on NEES@Berkeley's new hybrid shaking table and at the NEES@Berkeley lab.   Professor Keri Ryan of University Nevada, Reno is the PI of the NEEStips research program.

The final resulting footage used in the planetarium show depicts the specimen being shaken as it zooms into a close up to one of the isolators.  If you go to see the planetarium show, be sure to look for the NEES@Berkeley team in the credits!

For more information about the California Academy of Science exhibit, visit the "EARTHQUAKE: Life on a Dynamic Planet" website.  To watch the Academy's "Science in Action" video trailer highlighting the filming process and the importance of earthquake engineering research at PEER and NEES@Berkeley, visit the ScienceToday website.

Educators can learn more about seismic isolation for your classroom with video and lesson plan resources by visiting NEESacademy.

Photo Credit: CA Academy of Sciences


NEES Mini-Flume Exhibit at Culture Festival, Washington DC

The Smithsonian in Washington DC hosts a 10-day event annually called the FolkLife Festival, a celebration of culture and located on the memorial lawn.  Land Grand Institutions was one of the main themes this year in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Morrow Act, which created Land Grant Universities.  Oregon State University, a NEES equipment site, was chosen to be one of the host universities.    The NEES Mini-Flume was selected to be one of the three main exhibits that OSU presented at the festival.   The mini-flume provides interaction with the public by building Lego structures and testing them against the human-generated tsunami wave.  Over the course of the event, the OSU “Tsunami Team,” including four undergraduate women engineering and teaching students, a graduate student and NEES@OSU EOT Coordinator Alicia Lyman-Holt, interacted with over 5,000 visitors and presented about engineering, coastal hazards, and the NEES@Oregon State equipment site.   This event was considered a great success despite some weather challenges.

Photo Credit: Alicia Lyman-Holt, Oregon State University

Find Us on the Web

The George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES), a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded organization of which the goals are part of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program’s (NEHRP) coordinated effort to address earthquake risk in the United States.  The NEES mission to accelerate improvements in seismic design and performance by serving as an indispensable collaboratory for discovery and innovation.  Cooperative Agreement CMMI-0927178 

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