Progress beyond the State of the Art

Individually none of Europe’s research infrastructures has the critical mass of people and the broad range of experimental capabilities and expertise eeded for major breakthroughs in the State-of-the-Art of earthquake engineering: the JRC has a Reaction Wall and Pseudodynamic testing facility unique in Europe and among the largest worldwide, but lacks Shaking Table capability or a Centrifuge Test facility, which are vital for earthquake engineering research.

Such capabilities are offered in the comprehensive portfolio of research infrastructures mobilised in this project, which includes:

  • Europe’s two world class Centrifuge facilities;
  • ten Shaking Table laboratories of diverse and complementary technical capabilities;
  • seven more Reaction Walls for Pseudo-dynamic testing, complementing the one at JRC as satellites for geographically distributed testing and, being up-and-coming, adding to a dynamic map of European research infrastructures in earthquake engineering;
  • EU’s largest seismic tester of bearings and isolation/dissipation devices;
  • an instrumented site, with well-documented topography and soil characteristics, as a natural laboratory for site effects and wave propagation phenomena.

Networking Activities (NAs)

The networking activities of the project will enhance the services provided by the research infrastructures, transcending their current extreme fragmentation, through the following:

  • The creation of a very large virtual European research laboratory, through telepresence and geographically distributed testing at the participating research infrastructures.
  • Wide sharing of data and knowledge across the field of earthquake engineering and between academia, research and industry, through a web portal and distributed database, to be maintained and enhanced well beyond the end of the project.
  • A better structure and integration at a European scale of the way similar research infrastructures operate, developing synergies and complementarities between them and fostering their joint development in terms of performance and access.
  • Common European standards and protocols for similar research infrastructures and qualification criteria for European research infrastructures in earthquake engineering.
  • Enhancement of human potential, by training beneficiaries’ technical and research personnel on good practice in operation, use and maintenance of research infrastructures and seismic qualification of industrial components and equipment and offering courses to new users on the use of the research infrastructures.
  • Co-coordination of related national and European initiatives, to develop a European approach to research in earthquake engineering.
  • Collaboration with international research infrastructures of excellence, to support the deployment of a global approach with regard to research infrastructures.
  • Co-ordination with, and follow up of related FP7 projects, for synergies.
  • Promotion of up-and-coming new research infrastructures, especially in highly seismic but less technologically advanced areas, so that they can emerge in the medium- to long- term as earthquake engineering research infrastructures of pan-European interest.

The networking activities will also foster a culture of co-operation between the participants in the project and the S/T community benefiting from the research infrastructures, by engaging the entire European community of S/T and practice in earthquake engineering in the RTD activities of the beneficiary infrastructures, via multiple and very effective means of outreach.

Transnational Access Activities (TAs)

The project’s transnational access activities will use transparent, fair and impartial peer-review process to select talented European researchers with good ideas and provide them access and in-person use at a portfolio of high-performing world class research infrastructures, comprising:

  • EU’s largest Reaction Wall and Pseudodynamic testing facility (ELSA) at the JRC, Ispra,
  • Unique Centrifuge Test facilities, the largest in the EU, at IFSTTAR, in Nantes (FR) and Cambridge University (UK),
  • EU’s four largest earthquake Shaking Tables, each one with diverse capabilities, at the TAMARIS laboratory of CEA, in Saclay (FR), LNEC, in Lisbon (PT), EUCENTRE, in Pavia (IT) and the Bristol University Laboratory for Advanced Dynamics Engineering (UK), and
  • EU’s largest Seismic Tester for Bearings and Isolation Devices also at the EUCENTRE.

Joint Research Activities (JRAs)

The State-of-the-Art in experimental earthquake engineering RTD and the services offered by the infrastructures will be advanced through joint research activities (JRAs) in three areas where the beneficiaries excel at world level.

1. Dynamic testing for earthquake engineering requires high precision application of discrete and distributed dynamic loads, ranging from several MNewtons (e.g. for PsD testing of full-scale structures) to few kNewtons (e.g. in small-scale tests in a centrifuge). The baseline of JRA1 is the current use of servo-hydraulic actuators for the application of large dynamic loads.

Several new actuator technologies (e.g. linear electrical actuators and morphing composite materials) offer the potential for improving the fidelity and scope of dynamic earthquake engineering testing. The aim of JRA1 is to use this potential and position European laboratories so that they can offer users better experimental opportunities through these technologies.

JRA1 will conclude with prototyping a hybrid actuation system of linear electrical actuators and linear servo-hydraulic ones to improve their high-frequency fidelity.

2. JRA2 will investigate and then promote, after their calibration/validation in various tests of different levels of complexity, new types of sensors, control techniques and modelling tools capable of enhancing the measurement of the response of test specimens and improving the quality of test control. It will also develop numerical simulation tools, integrated with data processing, databases and visualisation, for improved design of test campaigns, including the equipment and for enhanced interpretation of test results, taking also into account foundation and the soil.

The current baseline, consisting of classical few point/local measurements in seismic testing, cannot serve the current needs of Performance-based earthquake engineering which emphasise structural damage. JRA2 will exploit recent advances in optical fibres, optical sensors, wireless communication, Micro-Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) and information technologies – software frameworks, databases, visualisation, Internet/grid computations - to serve these needs and significantly enhance seismic testing of complex structural systems. Remote measurements will be investigated and advanced, for use when direct contact with the specimen should be avoided, e.g., for safety of the instrumentation at specimen collapse.

3. Soil-structure interaction (SSI) during earthquakes refers to several phenomena related to the response of structures caused by the flexibility of the foundation soils, as well as to the response of soils and embedded facilities caused by the presence of structures. Modelling SSI requires not only the introduction of additional degrees of freedom, but often also physical simulation of wave propagation, duly accounting for the non linearities that depend on the induced strain level. The baseline in design, analysis and testing of structures is to ignore SSI: the structure is considered fixed to the ground and the free field motion is directly applied to its base. The obvious additional complication in laboratory testing of a complete structure-foundation-soil system is a major reason why SSI has received very little experimental attention and very few results are available for calibration of numerical models.

Experimental large-scale testing (large shaking tables, field observations, reaction wall testing) and small-scale testing (centrifuge, small shaking tables) will not only help calibrate numerical methods of analysis, but will also shed qualitative and quantitative light into the nature and significance of these nonlinear phenomena. JRA3 aims at providing Europe’s experimental facilities with the "tools" to carry out such novel experiments.


Access Facilities and Dissemination Information

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  Joint with US-NEES "Earthquake Engineering Research Infrastructures

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