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Earthquake Shake Table (Terremoto) Experiment

There are several different experimental techniques that can be used to test the response of structures to verify their seismic performance, one of which is the use of an earthquake shaking table (a shaking table, or simply shake table)


Building in earthquake country can be a tricky business. Architects and engineers run simulations using models and shake tables to test the integrity of buildings and determine necessary reinforcements. In this activity, I use a very simple, non motorized shake table to test my structures.


Place two boards or blind voters on top of one another.
“Rubber bands” the tow together by stretching a rubber band around each end, about 1 inch from the edge of the boards.
Insert the rubber balls between the boards at each corner.


Planet earth is layered planet, with a dense, metallic core; a layer of hot, liquid rock (Mantle); and a cold, brittle surface (Crust). The crust of the Earth is broken up into several pieces, known as plates. Convection currents in the liquid mantle pull the plates, causing them to move against one another (plate tectonics). Most earthquakes occur where plates come together (plate boundaries). The state of California spans over 2 plates: the North American plate and the Pacific plate. The state is bisected by a very large and well known “crack”, the San Andreas Fault.


Earthquakes are measured by the Richter Scale, a logarithmic measurement system. In this scale, an earthquake of 5.0 represents a tenfold increase in amplitude (and about 31 times more energy released) than a 4.0 earthquake. An earthquake measuring 5.3 would be considered moderate, a 6.3 would be considered strong, and 7.0 or higher is usually considered severe. For historical reference, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake had a magnitude of 7.8, while the 1989 Loma Prieta quake (near Santa Cruz) measured 7.0. Injuries and deaths during earthquakes generally occur because of building or structure collapses or by unsecured objects falling from shelves.


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