ambience: drilling, cranes, machinery earthquake test facility
To learn how underground pipelines might respond to the stress of an earthquake or a landslide, well, scientists at Cornell University have designed what looks like an overgrown sand box. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
“We’re looking at our test facility which is a large box about ten meters long in one direction and three meters long in the direction that is 90 degrees to the first direction. That’s about thirty feet in one direction and ten feet in the other. It contains approximately seventy tons of soil which have been placed carefully around a pipeline which is now buried approximately one meter or three feet below the surface. We’re just about to begin.”
As Professor Tom O’ Rourke looks on, the large “L” shaped box is shaken and twisted by the cable movements of two nearby construction cranes. He and other Cornell scientists are trying to find out exactly how the bends in pipelines react to stress of an earthquake.
“Many pipelines have to change directions in urbanized areas in order to follow rights of way. Consequently, they may change directions by ninety degrees and go through a bend. That bend represents an area of potential concentration of deformation if a ground rupture occurs close to it. Our experiments are focused on understanding the deformations which are generated at these bends, so that we can better evaluate these conditions and design for more safe and reliable piping systems.”
We’ll hear more about the safety of underground pipelines in future programs. Please visit our website at pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet is presented with support provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.