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Wine Storage in Earthquake Regions – Research from PEER

Toppled and broken wine barrels were a casualty of the south Napa earthquake on August 24, 2014, resulting in lost inventory, revenue, and disruption of business operations before harvest time. PEER, the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center, has conducted considerable research to understand and improve the seismic performance of wine making facilities. Following the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, a series of tests on wine barrels stacked in specially designed racks were conducted using the large earthquake simulator (shake table) at UC Berkeley’s Richmond Field Station. The tests demonstrated the ability of innovative and economical systems to protect these kinds of products.

Seismic tests have also been carried out on large metal tanks used to make and store wine during various stages of production. Early tests were conducted following the 1980 Green Valley earthquake that damaged wine-making facilities in the Livermore Valley.

More recently, storage tanks having their bottoms fixed to the ground or those supported on seismic isolation devices have demonstrated the vulnerability of thin-walled fluid storage tanks to earthquakes and the benefits of seismic isolation. Over 250 tests were carried out using ground motions recorded during the Loma Prieta, Kobe, and Chi-Chi earthquakes on tanks that were empty and full. The testing validated current code provisions for maximum design loads and sloshing amplitudes for fixed-base tanks, and showed that seismic isolation is effective in reducing base shear, tank deformation, and tank uplift.

The recent study of storage tanks with fixed base and isolated base conditions can be found at the NISEE-PEER e-library and is posted here publicly for ease of access:

Experimental and Analytical Studies of Fixed-Base and Seismically Isolated Liquid Storage Tanks

A report of the earlier tests conducted after the 1980 Green Valley Earthquake in the Livermore Valley is also at the NISEE-PEER e-library using the search “Clough wine,” and the study of stacked wine barrels in racks with fixed base conditions can be found using the search “Marrow wine barrel stacks.”

For more information contact: Grace Kang, SE, PEER Director of Communications, at 510-642-3462,

Useful resource:
National Information Service for Earthquake Engineering (NISEE) – PEER Library is based at the Richmond Field Station and provides an earthquake engineering online archive of structural engineering, geotechnical engineering, engineering dynamics, engineering seismology, and earthquake public policy.