Cal State East Bay's building demo fuels quake study

August 17, 2013 5:47:52 PM PDT
A moment of sentiment and science; the implosion of a building at the Cal State East Bay's campus is more than making way for something new. Scientists hope it will help them answer the question of what will happen when the next big one strikes.

It took about 15 seconds to reduce Cal State East Bay's Warren Hall to a 12,000 ton heap of rubble. The demolition also served as a man-made earthquake.

At exactly 9 a.m., 462 pounds of explosives were set off, making CSU East Bay's Warren Hall lean and collapse on itself.

The demolition was so precise that even the campus library next door was untouched.

"I cried," said CSU East Bay graduate Noreen Hann. "I didn't expect to. But it was just, all of a sudden, it was gone."

Thousands of onlookers gathered early on Mission Boulevard, eager to watch the implosion. But in just seven seconds, Warren Hall was but a memory; forever changing the campus and the city skyline it presided over for decades.

"You could see it from everywhere on the highways," Livermore resident Phill Hann said. "You could drive around and here's this big tower sticking up on the Hayward skyline. And it's gone."

CSU East Bay graduate Lisa Alday added, "We would drive by on BART, and I'd say 'There's where mom went to school!' and I can't do that anymore."

The 13-story administrative building that also housed classrooms on the lower levels was built about 40 years ago along the Hayward Fault.

"It's the fault that has the highest probability in the Bay Area of generating the next large earthquake," said Leslie Gordon with the U.S. Geological Survey.

Warren Hall was deemed the most seismically unsafe building in the CSU system. It's been abandoned for the last two years.

Experts are calling its demolition a man-made earthquake. How hard it hit the ground, created the force of a magnitude 2.0. This event will help the USGS to better understand the earth around the Hayward Fault.

"How hard is it going to shake over here?" Gordon said. "How hard is it going to shake over there? And we can then compile hazard maps. And these are things that are then used by engineers, planning officials."

The seismic waves created by the implosion were measured by seismographs placed in a wide radius around warren hall. Seismographs are two pieces of equipment.

One piece essentially listens to an earthquake while the other records it.

A seismograph was put on the property of Hayward resident Lee Baker about two miles away from the implosion. He says his instrument probably didn't pick up a lot of information from this morning's event.

Baker's device was one of 600 placed by the USGS to measure the implosion.

Officials will collate the information then eventually publish a paper detailing the results.

Subcontractors have 40 days to clear the rubble. Much of it will be recycled and repurposed to be used as building materials. In fact, some of it will be used in the replacement administration building across campus.

But this site will be turned into a park so people can enjoy this hilltop perch view of the bay for generations to come.


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