European seismic engineering research suffers from extreme fragmentation of research infrastructures (RI) between countries and limited access to them by the S/T community of earthquake engineering, especially that of Europe’s most seismic regions. A 23-strong Consortium of the key actors in Europe’s seismic engineering research (including 3 industrial partners) addresses these problems in a sustainable way via a 4-year programme of activities at an annual cost to the Commission less than 1.35% of the total present value (€190m) of the RIs’ material resources. The scope covers all aspects of seismic engineering testing, from eight Reaction Wall Pseudodynamic (PsD) facilities and ten Shake Table labs, to EU’s unique Tester of Bearings or Isolators, its two major Centrifuges and an instrumented Site for wave propagation studies.
Transnational Access is offered to a portfolio of world class RIs: EU’s largest PsD facility, four diverse Shake Tables and the two Centrifuges. Networking sets up a public distributed database of past, present and future test results, installs distributed testing capabilities at all PsD labs, fostering development of up-and-coming ones at Europe’s most seismic regions, drafts and applies protocols for qualification of RIs and engages the entire European community of earthquake engineering via the best possible instances: the European Association of Earthquake Engineering, EU’s seismic code makers and their national groups, the European Construction Industry, as well as all relevant S/T associations or networks.
Joint research engages all labs, exploring and prototyping novel actuators (combination of electro-dynamic and hydraulic ones) for better control of fast tests or special applications, new sensing and instrumentation systems, data assimilation in equipment-specimen models for better test control and optimisation of testing campaigns, as well as experimental studies of soil-structure interaction at all types of testing facilities.
Bridging the gap in seismic research
A significant number of prominent Europe-wide facilities opened up their research infrastructures (RIs) to the wider European earthquake engineering community. This paved the way for establishing Europe as a world leader in this field.
Fragmentation and limited access to RIs is dominating the scene in European seismic engineering. Through the EU-funded project 'Seismic engineering research infrastructures for European synergies' (http://www.series.upatras.gr/ (SERIES)), 23 partners from 11 countries joined forces to improve earthquake engineering research in Europe by sharing infrastructure and resources. SERIES helped the RIs enhance their own potential by exchanging know-how, pooling their human resources, and jointly developing novel seismic testing systems and techniques.
Through a number of networking activities, SERIES sought to disseminate RI findings, further increase awareness of RI capabilities and attract people. To reach the European scientific, technical and professional earthquake engineering community, project partners engaged the European Association for Earthquake Engineering (EAEE), the European body in charge of drafting and maintaining EN Eurocode 8, the European Earthquake Protection Initiative (EEPI), the International Federation of Structural Concrete (fib), the European construction industry, and relevant scientific and technical associations or networks. Outreach also involved training courses and four international open workshops.
To foster development between RIs, project partners developed a web portal and a virtual database containing experimental information. Furthermore, the consortium offered the possibility for geographically distributed, concurrent testing at several RIs and a common protocol for qualifying earthquake engineering RIs in Europe.
Through transnational activities, selected European research teams were offered the opportunity to conduct research at cutting-edge 'shaking table', 'reaction wall', 'pseudodynamic' and centrifuge testing facilities. In these 27 projects, industry involvement was remarkable, with potential benefits to promote innovation in seismic design practice in Europe. Joint innovative research toward new fundamental technologies and techniques in three areas was also performed.
Through know-how and expertise transfer from the largest and most prominent seismic RIs, SERIES should help less advanced RIs in high-seismicity regions further emerge. In addition, it contributed to enhancing the competitive edge of European construction firms and engineering services in overseas markets compared to its international counterparts.