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China Begins Work On World’s Largest Earthquake Simulator

May 26, 2009

Shanghai’s Tongji University announced on Tuesday that it has started building the largest earthquake simulator anywhere in the world.

The announcement comes just one week after the one-year anniversary of a deadly 8.0 magnitude quake in southwest China that left nearly 87,000 dead or missing. 

The new simulator will be used to accurately test the designs of bridges, subways, tunnels, stadiums and skyscrapers, said the university in a statement emailed to AFP.

It will consist of four vibrating platforms with the ability to carry 200 tons, and will generate a simulated earthquake that will test a model’s ability to endure the destructive forces.

Currently, the world’s largest earthquake simulator is at the University of Nevada.  However, it can only test half the capacity of the Tongji simulator, according to a report by China’s official Xinhua News Agency.

“With a larger total bearing ability, we can set up a bigger and more elaborate model of a structure to put on the vibrators,” the report quoted civil and structural engineering professor Li Jianzhong as saying.

The Tongji center simulator will take two years to complete.

Last year’s devastating quake left more than 5,335 students killed or missing after their classrooms crumbled upon them.  Although nearby structures withstood the quake and held firm, parents have blamed local groups for pocketing construction funds and building poor-quality schools.

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