Great Shake Out: Hub for NSF nationwide Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation at Purdue

February 6, 2013  

Bowen Lab

News media toured Purdue's Robert L. and Terry L. Bowen Laboratory for Large-Scale Civil Engineering Research to prepare for the Great ShakeOut earthquake drill planned for the Midwest Thursday (Feb. 7).

The 66,000-square-foot building is designed to accommodate research on buildings, tunnels, water and sewage treatment systems, bridge sub-assemblies, columns, and beams up to five stories tall and the length of a football field. Earthquakes, high winds, blasts and other disasters are simulated using a variety of large-scale actuation equipment. Shake tables of various sizes are used to simulate the effects of earthquakes on structures and develop mitigation strategies.

Thanks to the research at Bowen, engineers better understand the behavior of infrastructure systems, develop new approaches for rehabilitation and new construction, and verify models and designs.

They also develop and demonstrate the IT systems - fiber and cyber - that connect data and researchers across the country through the George E. Brown Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES). NEES links 14 large-scale laboratories across the country connected by a national web of computers, servers and telecommunications equipment feeding into NEEShub.

The hub is powered by HUBzero software developed at Purdue specifically to help the scientific community share resources and collaborate. The cyberinfrastructure, connected via Internet2, provides interactive simulation tools, a simulation tool development area, a curated central data repository, animated presentations, user support, telepresence, a mechanism for uploading and sharing resources and statistics about users, and usage patterns. The IT tools developed are shared open-source with the international community.  Funded by the National Science Foundation, the NEES operation is headquartered at Purdue.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency plans drills across the Midwest in conjunction with the 201st anniversary of the 1812 New Madrid (MAD'-rihd) earthquakes. Indiana and Illinois are among nine states located in the New Madrid Seismic Zone, centered in southeast Missouri. This zone is one of the nation's most potentially destructive seismically active areas. The human and economic cost of an event in an urban area within this zone would be catastrophic.

The four earthquakes that struck New Madrid in 1812 were among the most powerful to strike the United States in recorded history, and temporarily reversed the flow of the Mississippi River. 

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