Search | Contact | Privacy Statement | Legal Notice
European Commission >JRC >IPSC >ELSA


Design Study of a European Facility for Advanced Seismic Testing


During the 1990s a series of devastating earthquakes took place in a number of densely populated regions throughout the world. The 1994 Northridge earthquake, the 1995 Kobe earthquake and the 1999 Kocaeli earthquake are but a few examples of the devastating forces and extensive damages that are let loose when earthquakes strike modern and well developed societies. The post-assessment and evaluation of those earthquakes clearly show that the loss of lives, the economic impact and the halt of everyday activities due to collapsed infrastructure, is far more extensive and severe than previously believed.

An in-depth study of the findings from a series of recent earthquakes, the state of modern infrastructures, the design guides for structures in seismic regions etc, has revealed that the risk of being killed by an earthquake in Europe is most likely higher than in Japan or the United States. This rather surprising result is believed to be due to the fact that US and Japan have made significantly higher investments in earthquake engineering research and development than Europe. Some sources claim the US and Japanese investments to be up to 10 times greater than those made in Europe.

The European Association for Earthquake Engineering (EAEE), stated in their position paper Strategic Research Agenda on earthquake engineering, issued in 2007, that "… to create a safer Europe it will be necessary to undertake considerable effort towards a better definition of the hazard and the development of tailored mitigation approaches.". EAEE further stated that earthquakes in modern societies are no longer mere natural disasters in that the main cause of damage and loss of lives can be related to the lack of adequate seismic resistance of the built environment. Seismic resistance of buildings, industrial plants and lifelines (roads, railways, bridges, power supplies, etc) are well understood today, and can thus be properly addressed in order to significantly reduce the damage and loss of lives following an earthquake.

The recent years' development, harmonization and implementation of the EUROCODES, in combination with a number of related research programmes, have resulted in significant improvements at the European level in earthquake engineering. However, most of these actions have addressed the design of new structures, and the existing built infrastructure, being older and based on less strict design regulations, remains significantly more vulnerable. Many of these old buildings and infrastructures perform vital functions throughout European cities today.

The EAEE sets forth in their Strategic Research Agenda a series of actions addressing the protecting of European citizens and assets against earthquakes. Among those actions the continued need for large European testing facilities in earthquake engineering research is highlighted in particular. Combined with a strong need for co-ordination and collaboration between those research facilities, EAEE advocates the need for further developing and complementing the network of larges testing facilities in earthquake engineering research in Europe.


Earthquake risk is a major civil protection issue related to mitigation measures for protecting citizens, infrastructures, properties and human cultural heritage. Seismic testing of structures plays a key role for the better understanding of the physical phenomena involved in structural response to earthquakes, for the validation and improvement of analysis and design methods and for the qualification of sensitive equipment to be used in earthquake mitigation schemes. Hence, the availability of high level experimental facilities is considered essential to meet the objectives of earthquake mitigation.


EFAST is an FP7 European collaborative project that takes it’s rationale from the EAEE’s Strategic Research Agenda, with the overall objective to study all the aspects regarding the design of a major testing facility in Europe that would complement and collaborate with the existing ones.

In order to properly address this general objective, the project will address the following main topics:

  1. Define the features of a new high performance testing facility answering the needs of modularity, flexibility, operating ease and complementary to existing research infrastructures in Europe.
  2. Make progress in advanced test methods (multiple shaking table control, real time sub-structuring techniques, hybrid testing coupling numerical and physical substructures).
  3. Address issues related to access as well as high-speed networking with other European laboratories that would allow the carrying out of real time geographically distributed tests in the future.
  4. Address and answer the key questions concerning the assessment of the technical and financial feasibility of this facility, leading to a "conceptual design report" allowing policy makers to make relevant strategic decisions.


The design study has been split into five work packages:

Work Package 1 covers the management and the coordination. A conceptual design report for the facility infrastructure is the main expected result from the coordination.

Work Package 2 is dedicated to the assessment of the characteristics and the performance of the facility. This will be achieved by inquiries, workshops and visits to key facilities.

Work Package 3 is devoted to advanced testing and simulation. It focuses on techniques and methodology related to control of multiple shaking tables and real time hybrid testing. Main expected results are: assessment of current feasibility of advanced techniques and performance criteria for the equipment.

Work Package 4 enters deeply in the technology of the facility. It is mainly expected to reveal and solve any technological “locks”, to assess the technical feasibility of such a facility, estimate construction cost and deliver first drawings of the concept.

Work Package 5 serves the dissemination of results, as well as scientific and technical communication and cooperation. The main expected results are the implementation of a user-friendly web portal and the evaluation of the economic impact of such an experimental facility.

2nd EFAST Workshop

Reliable Testing of Seismic Performance

29-30 June, 2011, Ispra, Italy

Draft leaflet (297kB)


The project is an activity under the action SAFECONSTRUCTION, Research in Support of Standardization in Construction and Construction Products

Start date: 01/09/2008, End date: 21/08/2011.


Five European partners with a large experience in seismic and dynamic testing are involved in EFAST. These partners are:

  • Commissariat a l'Energie Atomique (France) - Coordinator of the project
  • Gheorghe Asachi Technical University of Iasi (Romania)
  • Eucentre (Italia)
  • Kassel University (Germany)
  • Joint Research Centre (European Commission).


Francisco Javier Molina
European Laboratory for Structural Assessment (ELSA)
European Commission - JRC - IPSC - TP 480
Via E. Fermi, 2749
I-21027 Ispra (VA) - ITALY
Tel.: +39 0332 786069 Fax.: +39 0332 789049

Project Web Site

Recent Publications

See more publications