Cornell to test new earthquake-resilient pipeline for Los Angeles

WHAT: Cornell to run full-scale simulation test on new earthquake-resilient pipeline
WHEN: Wednesday, July 20, through Friday, July 22, 2016
WHERE: Geotechnical Lifelines Large-Scale Testing Facility, Thurston Hall, Cornell University
MEDIA: Members of the media are welcome to attend, record and photograph the testing. Photo-friendly opportunities include the earthquake simulation on July 20 and pipeline exposure on July 22. Media members are asked to RSVP to Daryl Lovell in Cornell’s Media Relations Office at 607-254-4799 or

ITHACA, N.Y. – Officials representing the City of Los Angeles and other municipalities will visit Cornell University this month as researchers test an innovative new earthquake-resilient pipeline that could better protect southern California’s water utility network from earthquakes.

Cornell Engineering researchers will run a section of the pipeline through an earthquake simulation test in the Geotechnical Lifelines Large-Scale Testing Facility on Wednesday, July 20. They will then excavate and collect data through Friday, July 22. The facility is internationally recognized for its unique ability to run full-scale tests to quantify and understand soil-pipeline interactions and seismic performance of utility lines.

The upcoming test will simulate fault rupture that will bend and buckle the pipeline by several feet. The pipe is 8 inches in diameter and was developed by JFE Holdings based in Japan. The results of the test are scalable, and will be applied to the design of water supply pipelines as large as 8 to 12 feet in diameter. The pipe utilizes a unique structural wave to control buckling, allowing the pipe to bend and fold while remaining intact and maintaining water flow.

Such flexibility is sought after by west coast utility departments that must run water mains over fault lines, risking the vitality of entire distribution systems. All of southern California’s water supply crosses the San Andreas Fault, and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power—the nation’s largest public utility provider—is alone responsible for maintaining over 7,000 miles of pipeline carrying water to over four million residents.

The test comes at a time when municipalities around the country are eager to upgrade their aging utility infrastructure following natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy, which caught communities off guard and without life-supporting utilities.

Los Angeles is upgrading its water utility system through the “Resilience By Design” program implemented by Mayor Eric Garcetti. The Cornell test will help the city and other municipalities determine the new pipeline’s capabilities and suitability for vulnerable areas that have been identified.

For more information:
Daryl Lovell
office: 607-254-4799
cell: 607-592-3925

Cornell University has television, ISDN and dedicated Skype/Google+ Hangout studios available for media interviews.