CEAE professor Shideh Dashti researched how tall buildings affect adjacent underground structures during earthquakes with a group including professors from the University of Illinois and engineers from the Arup Group. They produced a research paper on their findings titled "Influence of Tall Buildings on Seismic Response of Shallow Underground Structures" that was published and selected as an editor’s choice by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).
Engineers have long observed the potential for buildings to transmit forces into the surrounding soils but have little understanding of how these affect nearby underground structures. Dr. Dashti and her team used a centrifuge facilities located at CU Boulder and at the University of California, Davis, to test prototype building and structure combinations using both mid- and high-rise buildings with cut-and-cover tunnels and braced excavations. They used a centrifuge for geotechnical modeling because of its ability to scale between testing and in situ conditions. Researchers found that the buildings do transmit large lateral loads to underground structures during seismic events and were able to reasonably reproduce the measured response numerically.
Dr. Dashti’s findings are beneficial to the growing field of earthquake design. Millions of people worldwide live in areas that experience seismicity and are threatened by earthquakes. Engineers have sought to expand their knowledge of the behavior of structures and foundations during seismic events in order to improve structural safety and resilience. Dr. Dashti’s findings will help to lessen the impact earthquakes have on infrastructure by allowing engineers to understand their effect and work to mitigate it.