A monster truck that pounds the ground to simulate earthquakes

Geologists in New Zealand have a new tool to help them measure the effects of earthquakes. It's called T-Rex, a 64,000 pound (29,000 kilogram) shaker truck that's being provided by the U.S. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation.

The truck is being sent to New Zealand's South Island — location of the devastating 2011 earthquake that destroyed buildings and resulted in 185 deaths. Seismologists are hoping to gather data which will be used to create structures more resistant to quakes.

Writing in Wunderground, Beck Oskin explains:

The earthquakes caused widespread liquefaction, a phenomenon in which shaking of water-logged soils turns the sediment temporarily from a solid to a liquid. The jiggly, wet soils undermined buildings and other structures. As many as 7,500 homes were abandoned. Parts of downtown Christchurch remain cordoned off due to the extensive damage.

The seismic data gathered with T-Rex will inform engineers, on an area-by-area basis, how to rebuild structures in Christchurch to resist future earthquakes, according to a statement from the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation. The seismic waves can find which soils are more likely to liquefy, and which soils are more stable. Engineers can design structures to withstand earthquakes, but first they need to know more about the soils in each area, the statement said.

More here.

Image: Network of Earthquake Engineering.