In a controversial move last week, San Francisco placed warning signs on buildings that violate San Francisco’s seismic safety laws. The large signs, written in multiple languages and displaying drawings of destroyed buildings, were posted on and around buildings to notify potential occupants that the building’s owners have not retrofitted the structure. While many agree that something must be done to convince building owners to upgrade unsafe structures, some feel that publicly “shaming” the buildings and its owners is not the smartest way to achieve the city’s goal. Berkeley tried something similar to what San Francisco is doing back in 2005. They placed warning signs on at-risk buildings and required owners to send letters to their tenants about the building being in danger if an earthquake hit. Of the 239 buildings targeted by Berkeley, 100 owners voluntarily retrofitted their structures while the city had to pass a law to get the other 139 buildings retrofitted. San Francisco is going further than any other California city has in the past to notify the public by placing larger signs on more buildings.
An earthquake-detection system developed by the University of California Berkeley’s Seismological Laboratory performed well during the recent earthquake that struck the Napa Valley region on August 24. The system was able to produce a warning message 10 seconds before the magnitude-6 temblor struck. "It was definitely a great proof-positive that the system works just like we'd hoped," says Jennifer Strauss, the lab's external relations officer. "One of the things the Napa quake did show us is you need to make sure there are enough sensors," says Strauss. One member of the lab even stated the warning could have gone out 2.5 seconds earlier had the lab received more funding to install more sensors in the area. California unanimously passed a bill last year that would create a state-wide early detection system. Funding for such project, however, has yet to be found.
The creators of the Bay Bridge’s “Bay Lights” have until the end of the year to raise $4 million to keep their changing light display from coming to an end. The Bay Lights have been around since March of 2013 and are operating on a two-year permit. The system was privately funded and cost $8 million to install. They are made up of 25,000 LED lights that are attached to 300 cables on one side of the bridge’s western span. Artist Leo Villareal programmed the lights to constantly change patterns from dusk until dawn each night.
This week San Francisco International Airport turns over its new control tower to the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA will spend a year outfitting the 221-foot, torch-like, flared cylinder with its systems, testing them and training controllers. The concrete spine of the tower is tied, with steel cables, to a 7-foot thick mat foundation, which is supported by 140-foot deep piers that reach the bedrock below. The tower contains two dampers, each 37,400 pounds, which help the shaft to remain still in high winds and to withstand a magnitude 8 earthquake. The FAA provided the majority of the $120 million dollars needed for project.
The most complex public works project in California history - the Bay Bridge's new eastern span - will be finally declared complete in a few weeks. The area's landmark was based on a bold design that had never been tried on that scale and will now pass under the control of state and local authorities after 16 years of construction.
A team of researchers from the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Lawrence Berkeley (Berkeley Lab) and Lawrence Livermore (LLNL) national laboratories, as well as from the University of California at Davis, have developed the first-ever end-to-end simulation code to precisely capture the geology and physics of regional earthquakes, and how the shaking impacts buildings. The code will take advantage of exascale supercomputers, the future supercomputers that will be 50 times faster than the US’s most powerful system today. Their work is part of the DOE’s Exascale Computing Project (ECP), a collaborative effort between the DOE’s Office of Science and National Nuclear Security Agency and was recently published in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Computer Society’s Computers in Science and Engineering.