The UC Davis geotechnical centrifuge was conceived of and constructed in a collaborative effort with NASA and UC Davis beginning in 1978. It first operated in 1984 at the NASA Ames Research Center in Sunnyvale, CA. In 1987 the centrifuge was disassembled and moved to UC Davis and installed on the concrete foundation where it continues to operate today. In 1989 a reinforced concrete rotunda was constructed around the centrifuge, which among other things greatly improved the maximum acceleration that could be achieved. Since then continual improvements have been made, including the installation of the hydraulic shaker in 1995 and culminating with the NEES-supported upgrades to the drive system, data acquisition and controls that were completed in September, 2004.
The UC Davis centrifuge has the largest radius and platform area of any geotechnical centrifuge in the United States; it is among the largest anywhere in the world. The centrifuge can carry 5 ton payloads to 75g at its effective radius of 8.5m. Its large size and available resources allow researchers to perform detailed experiments to test geotechnical engineering systems. The facility is recognized as a NEES (Network for Earthquake Engineering) shared-use laboratory.
A shake Table mounted on the centrifuge is used to simulate ground motions from micrometers to great earthquakes in biaxial (horizontal-vertical) or uniaxial (horizontal) shaking motions. The center also has a distributed high-speed wireless data acquisition system that records data from hundreds of accelerometers, pore pressure tranducers, and linear potentiometers through the duration of a single test.
PI: (Ross Boulander)