Media Advisory/Photo Opportunity: Professor Tests on Friday New Method to Reduce Damage to Woodframe Structures in Earthquake-prone Areas

Note to Editors: Media interested in attending this test must RSVP to Emily Wilmsen by 10 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 19.


Civil Engineering Professor John Van de Lindt will perform one of his four major earthquake shake-table tests at 2 p.m. Friday, Sept. 19 in the Engineering Research Center at the university’s Foothills Campus.


Van de Lindt has, for the first time, applied a base isolation system to a light-frame wood building for shake-table testing. A base isolation system has historically been used to protect specialized buildings from high levels of ground accelerations. For the test, he has built a two-story home to half-scale. At full scale, the home would be 1,600 square feet with a one-car garage. The tests will simulate three recorded earthquakes with only a 2 percent chance of occurrence in 50 years.

Base isolation is a system that, using four friction pendulum sliders, removes ground acceleration away from the structure and minimizes damage. If these tests perform as expected, homebuilders across earthquake-prone areas might someday significantly reduce the damage to homes from large earthquakes.


This is one of four tests Van de Lindt and colleagues are conducting around the world as part of a four-year, $1.37 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a new design approach for taller (mid-rise) woodframe buildings in earthquake-prone areas. Two other tests so far have been successfully conducted at Colorado State University and at State University of New York-Buffalo, and one is scheduled at Rensselear Polytechnic Institute in the spring.

Next summer, the final test will occur on the world’s largest earthquake shake table in Miki City, Japan, near Kobe – tests of a seven-story 17,000-square-foot building. The project ultimately will provide the technical support for the woodframe industry to safely increase the height of woodframe construction to six, possibly even seven, stories in active seismic zones.