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Media Advisory 08-037

Spanning the Future of Infrastructure

High-tech bridge to be assaulted with large earthquake

Photo of doctoral student Arash Esmaili checking measurements atop a 110-ft. bridge model.

Civil engineering doctoral student Arash Esmaili checks measurements atop a 110-ft. bridge model.

December 8, 2008

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

This Thursday, researchers at the University of Nevada-Reno (UNR) will shake a 110-foot, four-span bridge with tortuous motions comparable to an 8.0 magnitude earthquake. The bridge, constructed over many months atop three enormous shake tables, is a test bed for cutting-edge construction technologies of the future. Many of the new materials--including nickel-titanium bars, elastomeric materials, and polyvinyl fiber concrete--are being tested in a bridge system for the first time.

What:Earthquake-scale shaking of an experimental four-span bridge.

Where:The James E. Rogers and Louis Wiener Jr. Large-Scale Structures Laboratory at the University of Nevada, Reno, one of the three shake-table research sites of the National Science Foundation's network of 15 large-scale, experimental sites called the George E. Brown Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation.

Who:Researchers from UNR; University of California, Berkeley; University of California, San Diego; Florida International University; Georgia Tech; Stanford University; University of Kansas; University of Illinois, Chicago; Tokyo Institute of Technology; and the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia are participating in this research project.

When:Dec. 11, 2008, 1:30 p.m. ET

Contact:To view the event in person or via webcast (registration required), contact Mike Wolterbeek at


Facts About the Bridge

Design: Four spans, one-fourth scale
Weight: 210 tons (with added weight)
Dimensions: 110 feet-long, 8 feet-wide, 10 feet-high
Primary components: 60 cubic yards of concrete; 16,000 lbs of steel

Media Contacts
Joshua A. Chamot, NSF, (703) 292-7730, email:
Mike Wolterbeek, University of Nevada, Reno, (775) 784-4547, email:

Program Contacts
Joy M. Pauschke, NSF, (703) 292-7024, email:

Principal Investigators
M. Saiid Saiidi, University of Nevada, Reno, (775) 784-4839, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2022 budget of $8.8 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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