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Engineering matters: A fault runs through it


At Homecoming 2008, civil engineering professor Jack Moehle, former director of the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center, updated visitors on the seismic retrofit of Memorial Stadium and plans for the new athletic training center. Here are the highlights. To see the lecture, go to


The numbers
62%     Probability of a magnitude 6.7+ quake in the next 30 years

140      Years, on average, between major quakes on the fault, the last in 1868, 141 years ago

The plan
A “let-it-move” seismic retrofit of the stadium and added training facility to be completed in 2013. The stadium’s western half will be split into three sections that can shift independently in a quake.


Why now?
In 1997, the campus initiated the Seismic Action Plan for Facilities Enhancement and Renewal to systematically upgrade campus buildings in need of seismic strengthening. The stadium needs a retrofit to ensure the safety of those who use it.

Legal matters
Detractors of the new building plan, some of whom took up temporary arboreal residence in an oak grove west of the stadium, tried to halt the project by invoking the 1972 Alquist-Priolo Earthquake Fault Zoning Act, intended to promote new construction away from faults. Judges ruled in favor of the university and appeals were denied. The tree-sitters eventually climbed down and the grove was cleared so construction could begin.

Did you know?
Memorial Stadium, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, opened for the Big Game in 1923. Cal beat Stanford 9-0.


What is it?
The new training center is a 142,000-square-foot conditioning and sports medicine facility that will serve student athletes from football and 12 Olympic sports, their coaches and staff. It will be built on the stadium’s west side, providing 68,000 additional square feet of plaza, in sediment that shows no earthquake movement in the past 10,000 years.