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The George Winter Laboratory, home for a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded project to establish the nation's premier center for large-scale earthquake simulation experiments, had its public debut on Nov. 15, 2004 with an NSF-sponsored live webcast of an experiment designed to study the deformation and rupturing of underground pipelines during an earthquake -- "lifelines" that can carry, for example, water, natural gas, liquid fuel or telecommunications.

The experiment was explained by the earthquake facility's director, Harry Stewart, an associate professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), and by Tim Bond, manager of technical services at Winter Lab. The co-principal investigator for the project is Thomas O'Rourke, the Thomas R. Briggs professor of CEE.

As part of the national Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation system (NEES), the lab will provide new information about the effect of major earth movements on pipelines "and lead to new construction practices that will enable the lifelines to survive even under the massive forces that earthquakes can generate.