While the Dumbarton Bridge is closed to through traffic, California Geological Survey employees are installing seismic sensors onto the bridge.
They will be placing 110 "accelerometors" onto the structure's support system, which will report ground motion information to scientists who will use the information to make better buildings in the future.
“The information we gather with these instruments ultimately can help make structures better able to withstand damaging earthquakes, which are infrequent but inevitable in California,” said Dr. John Parrish, California's state geologist.
With the Hayward Fault located about eight miles northeast of the and the San Andreas fault about eight miles southwest of it, the bridge is in a prime location for collecting this type of data. The sensors will be collecting information about how the structure moves vertically and horizontally during an earthquake. From this motion data, scientists will be able to discern acceleration, velocity, displacement and frequency.
The information will be distilled and shared with interested engineers, local government officials, and seismologists who can take it into consideration while designing new, earthquake-resistant structures.
“California has some of the most effective building standards in the world, thanks in part to the data collected by these instruments,” said Dr. Anthony Shakal, head of the Strong Motion Instrumentation Program. “Earthquakes that kill hundreds in other parts of the world cause relatively few casualties here. But when it comes to protecting public safety and property, there’s always room to improve.”
The California Department of Conservation created the Strong Motion Instrumentation Program in 1971 after the San Fernando earthquake damaged an enormous amount of property. It has installed 1,150 similar devices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, and Sacramento. It partners with the U.S. Geological Survey, which has a campus in Menlo Park.
To view the data collected by these sensors, visit strongmotioncenter.org.