Earthquake Engineers Gather at UNR

Swarm of earthquakes beneath Sun Valley.
By  | 

RENO, Nev.--Scientists say eventually Northern Nevada can expect a major earthquake that causes catastrophic damage. There is no way to prevent the 'Big One,' but a group of engineers gathered at UNR this week aim to make us more prepared.

While seismologist study earthquake cause, magnitude, and frequency, engineers in the NEES network put that data to work.

"The structural engineers take that information and figure out how to make buildings, and schools, and houses safe for us to live and work in," said Ian Buckle, a professor of civil engineering at UNR.

The Network for Earthquake Engineering and Simulation is comprised of 14 different universities.

"The value of the NEES network is that the researchers today can do tests in ways they could not do before. They can share data and run simulations in ways they could not do before," said Julio Ramirez of Purdue University.

Most importantly, they can collaborate in ways never before possible. That's precisely why 300 people from the network gathered at UNR Thursday.

"It's just amazing what has been learned, things that we did not know prior to when we began 10 years back," said Buckle.

The 14 universities each have labs that simulate different seismic events. Using models, researchers can see how a bridge would stand up to a earthquake or even a tsunami.

"When you are looking at minimizing the effect of a earthquake, you look at saving lives, that is your first concern, but you also want to minimize the economic loss," said Ramirez

Among the crowd, many engineers sit on boards and advisory committees that dictate building code.

"Through those committees, they work with other peers and evaluate the most recent research data," said Thalia Anagnos, a professor with San Jose State University.

Their goal is to get designs proven to be more earthquake safe implemented into the public.