RENO, NEV. — Not long after a deadly earthquake struck Mexico City, University of Nevada scientists were getting ready to mimic quakes to test new bridge designs developed to help the structures better withstand violent temblors.
The engineers on Sept. 20 were slated to rattle a 100-tonne, 70-foot bridge model to see how it holds up on a giant contraption in a Reno seismology lab called a "shake table."
Some design work by the engineers has been incorporated into a highway off-ramp under construction in Seattle. It has flexible columns and reinforcement bars made out of a metal alloy that bends and then springs back into shape when quakes hit. Bridges are already designed not to collapse in earthquakes but often are unsafe for travel after big quakes.
The scientists are funded by the California Department of Transportation.