Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation: Sites at Berkeley, UCLA, Davis, and Oregon

The National Science Foundation (NSF) George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) is a project funded under the NSF Major Research Equipment Program. Congress has authorized NEES for a five-year construction period, from fall 1999 through fall 2004, for a total of $81.9M. The goal of NEES is to provide a national, networked collaboratory of geographically distributed, shared-use, next-generation experimental research equipment sites, with teleobservation and teleoperation capabilities, that will transform the environment for earthquake engineering research and education through collaborative and integrated experimentation, computation, theory, databases, and model-based simulation to improve the seismic design and performance of U.S. civil and mechanical infrastructure systems.

NSF recently announced funding of ten NEES equipment sites, four of which are at participating universities of the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center. The four sites include a reaction wall facility at UC Berkeley, a mobile field laboratory at UCLA, a centrifuge at UC Davis, and a tsunami wave tank at the University of Oregon. For more information about the NEES program, see

UC Berkeley Reconfigurable Reaction Wall-based Earthquake Simulator Facility

At UC Berkeley, the Reconfigurable Reaction Wall earthquake simulator facility will support the development of a new generation of hybrid testing methods. Such testing methods smoothly integrate physical and numerical simulations conducted at different locations using the Internet. The facility leverages the capabilities of existing testing facilities located at the University of California, Berkeley, Richmond Field Station. It builds on an existing 60x20-ft strong floor and an existing 4-million-lb axial compression-tension machine by adding a reconfigurable 42-ft-high strong wall, a set of dynamic and static actuators, a new multichannel digital control system, and equipment and Internet connections to enable teleparticipation. Faculty investigators at Berkeley are Jack Moehle, Stephen Mahin, Bozidar Stojadinoviæ, and Khalid Mosalam (Civil and Environmental Engineering); and John Canny (Computer Sciences). For more information see

Field Testing and Monitoring of Structural Performance at UCLA

UCLA will develop mobile equipment for field testing of structural and geotechnical systems. This equipment will fill a critical need for measuring the linear and nonlinear dynamic response of full-scale structures with a high degree of spatial and temporal resolution. The equipment will consist of state-of-the-art vibration sources, a wireless data acquisition system, a CPT truck and in-situ soil vibration sensors, and networking equipment to allow for real-time data acquisition, processing, and World Wide Web broadcasting of experimental results. Most experiments with the equipment will consist of forced-vibration testing and earthquake aftershock monitoring of full-scale structures. Large arrays of sensors will be placed in structures and the surrounding foundation soils. The data obtained will be at levels of detail that have not been previously possible and will lead to a better understanding of linear and nonlinear response mechanisms. Faculty investigators at UCLA are John Wallace, Jonathan Stewart, Joel Conte, Patrick Fox (Civil and Environmental Engineering); and Deborah Estrin (Computer Science).

UC Davis Geotechnical Centrifuge Facility

At UC Davis, the advanced centrifuge facilities will provide the NEES with capabilities necessary for producing comprehensive and accurate data for the development and rigorous testing of model-based simulation methods in geotechnical engineering. The project is working to implement advanced instrumentation, digital video, robotics, and geophysical testing to greatly increase the quality and quantity of data that can be collected from experiments. A specific aim is to improve the capacity of the existing centrifuge facility, in part by adding a biaxial shaking table capability in the centrifuge. These improvements will allow extraction of more detailed and more accurate information from experiments and simulations. Faculty investigators at UC Davis are Bruce Kutte, Ross Boulanger, and Boris Jeremic (Civil Engineering); Stephen Velinsky (Mechanical Engineering); Bernd Hamman and Kwan Liu Ma (Computer Sciences); and Ben Yoo (Electrical and Computer Engineering).

Oregon State University Multidirectional Wave Basin Facility for Remote Tsunami Research

Oregon State University will extend and enhance an existing multidirectional wave basin at the O. H. Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory to create a Tsunami Basin that will be the only facility of its kind in the world, from three perspectives. First, it will be the largest and most advanced tsunami testing facility of its kind, fulfilling the NEES goal to provide next-generation experimental research equipment. Second, a comprehensive Information Architecture supporting remote users will be developed by experienced usability engineers to ensure a positive impact on researcher effectiveness and productivity. Third, a Tsunami Experiment Databank will be established so that the broader research community can study the results of tsunami experiments, reducing the need for experimentation and providing data for validating numerical models. The basin dimensions (approximately 27m x 50m x 2m) and wave-generation capabilities (2m maximum stroke and 2m/s maximum velocity) closely match the tsunami community’s vision of an “ideal basin.” Faculty investigators at Oregon are Solomon Yim, Cherri Pancke, and Charles Sollitt.