Implosion of Cal State building offers earthquake lesson
SAN FRANCISCO — Scientists monitored the impact as a 13-story building crashed to the ground on Saturday in the hope they could learn more about earthquakes.
Researchers used the demolition of the largest building on the Cal State-East Bay campus in Hayward, Calif., as a natural experiment. The collapse created a small shock wave that they could measure across the region. More than 6,000 sensors were deployed within a mile or two of the building to record the wave as it raced through the ground. Others were as far away as San Francisco, about 20 miles southeast of campus.
“We got some pretty strong shaking in the general area,” said Rufus Catchings, a geophysicist with the Geological Survey in Menlo Park, Calif., who was one of dozens of scientists who had spent the past month getting ready for the demolition.
All 12,500 tons of Warren Hall went down just after 9 a.m. Saturday “without a hitch,” said Barry Zepel, a spokesman for the university. About 1,000 people gathered in the parking lot of a nearby Kmart to watch in what became something of a tailgate party.
Because shock waves travel through solid rock differently than through the broken rock and soil of fault lines, the researchers hope that when they analyze their measurements they'll get a better sense of the extent of the Hayward fault zone, about which little is known.
USGS staffers had specifically requested television news crews not to use helicopters to film the event because the roar and “thump-thump-thump” of the blades could have drowned out the small signal created by the implosion they were trying to record.
The building was scheduled for demolition after being tagged as the No. 1 earthquake risk in the 23-campus California state university system because of the way it was built and its proximity to the Hayward earthquake fault, Zepel said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Murder charges dropped against sergeant who shot 2 unarmed Iraqi boys
- First Ebola case in U.S. confirmed in Dallas
- Secret Service chief endures blistering glare of Congress’ questions over White House breach
- Pentagon review puts Gitmo transfers on ice
- Dallas hospital confirms 1st Ebola case in U.S.
- New York City mayor boosts city’s living wage to $13.13
- California becomes 1st state to ban plastic bags
- FCC backs end to NFL broadcast blackouts
- Feds say $100M in data hacked
- Panel says Wis. lawmaker likely broke House rules by advocating for companies in which he owned stock
- Medical marijuana use to get court test in Colo.