CORVALLIS - If a major earthquake triggered a deadly tsunami in the Pacific Ocean, what impact would the wave have on millions of residents living along the U.S. Pacific Coast?

We'll know more on Nov. 15.

As part of a live, simulcast grand opening event of a new national earthquake engineering research network, which links 15 large-scale research facilities across the continent, researchers at Oregon State University's Tsunami Wave Basin will unleash a tidal wave on a scale model of a U.S. city on the Pacific Coast.

The program can be viewed via the Internet and Internet2 starting at 10:30 a.m. PST at

The OSU presentation will be one of four remote demonstrations streamed live via the Internet to Washington, D.C., where the National Science Foundation is hosting the grand opening of the George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation. The NSF created this network to give researchers tools to learn how earthquakes and tsunamis affect the buildings, bridges, utility systems and other critical components of today's society.

More than 75 million Americans in 39 states live in towns and cities at risk for earthquake devastation, and much of the Oregon and Washington coastline is susceptible to impacts from tsunamis.

"We have the world's largest tsunami wave basin here at Oregon State, enabling us to perform experiments that will save lives through safer designs for buildings, bridges and other structures, and through better tsunami warning systems in the event of a tsunami attack," said Dan Cox, director of the O.H. Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory at OSU. "We are at the cutting edge of earthquake engineering research."

Other research sites around the nation feature such advanced tools as shake tables, centrifuges that simulate earthquake effects, unique laboratories, and field-testing equipment. All the sites are linked together via the high-speed Internet2 network and special software, enabling experiments to run simultaneously at two or more sites.

OSU developed some of the software for the national system, including a web interface that allows participation in tsunami experiments at OSU from remote sites. Not only can engineers across the country observe what's happening in the OSU Tsunami Wave Basin, they can use instant-replay, slow-motion and other advanced technology to enhance the experience.

"In many ways the new technology makes remote participation even better than being there," said OSU computer science professor Cherri Pancake, who led development of the software.

With these tools, engineers and students from all parts of the country can collaborate on multi-site experiments using simulators that generate earthquake effects strong enough to bring down full-sized buildings.

From that knowledge, researchers say, will come a new set of rules that engineers will use to design structures and materials that will better withstand earthquake forces and better tsunami warning systems that help in evacuation planning.

OSU's Tsunami Wave Basin, located in the O.H. Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory on 35th Street in Corvallis, will be featured for approximately 10 minutes at around 11:30 a.m. PST. More information on the earthquake network research at OSU can be found on the web at


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Dan Cox, 541-737-3631