Texas is not a state that's famous for its earthquakes. This means that when scientists at the University of Texas want to study tremors, they have to get creative. The solution is a huge truck with a weight that can pound on the ground. Technically, this rig is the Large Mobile Shaker, but it goes by the nickname T-Rex.
The University of Texas has five shakers of various sizes, but this video primarily focuses on the big, bad T-Rex. It can strike the ground so rapidly that the weight's movement doesn't show up on camera. In this video, the device has to slow things down to get the point across.
The purpose of this device is both for research and real-world applications. The T-Rex has the ability to place sensors in the ground. The scientists can then monitor this data to see how the fake earthquakes move through the earth. Think of it as a real-world T-Rex thumping the ground like in Jurassic Park. The weight has three shaking methods: vertical, horizontal, or transverse. It can impact the ground at up to 60,000 pounds (27,216 kilograms) in vertical mode or about 30,000 pounds in horizontal mode.
For example, the team recently went to Wyoming to analyze how an earthquake would affect new power plants there. The scientists were able to evaluate things half a mile into the ground without needing to drill boreholes, which saves money for the people building the plant.
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Unfortunately, you can't feel the T-Rex's effect in this video, but the host says that it is like a real earthquake. In this clip, the weight is at the maximum setting that the University of Texas allows. It can go even higher. The scientist mentions creating a 6,000-foot (1.829-kilometer) long underground wave recently.
Part of the reason that earthquakes are dangerous is because of soil liquefaction. Obviously, we usually walk on the ground, and it is solid. But, a tremor can shake things in just the right way that the earth can begin to act like a liquid. Without the necessary support and architectural planning, a structure in such an area can collapse.