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Science to the fore in groundbreaking testing

Part of the reason for the celebration hosted by Wellington Free Ambulance [WFA] on Thursday was a seismic testing initiative never seen before in Wairarapa.

The testing, which was carried out at the Queen St site for WFA’s future ambulance station, will provide information about how earthquake waves move through the soil.

The knowledge gained will then be used in the design of the station to ensure that, as an IL4-rated building, it can withstand any natural disasters that occur.

Masterton’s LGE Consulting lead structural engineer Michelle Grant said the test will be used to better inform engineers on how to design the specifications needed for the station.

“Considering the high seismicity of Wairarapa, this is important information to enable better planning for hazard resilience in our buildings,” Grant said.

“It helps remove uncertainty – it’s good for the project and good for us as engineers.”

An advanced sonic drilling system using high-frequency vibration has drilled 100mm wide core samples to a depth of 30m under the ground.

The samples are an important part of an analysis that involves a geophysicist using a specialist tool to measure the speed of sideways movement or sheer wave velocity 30m under the ground.

Grant said this is an exciting opportunity for both Wairarapa and her team.

“It’s an expensive exercise, especially for regional New Zealand,” she said.

“As an engineer, this is awesome for us. You don’t often get the chance to be a part of a project of this scale and nature.”

Historically, in-situ seismic testing in New Zealand has been limited outside of large infrastructure projects such as dams and pipelines.

Since the 2010-2011 Canterbury earthquakes, increased awareness of the importance of site response and liquefaction hazards has led to greater demand for in-situ seismic testing.

Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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