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MEDIA ADVISORY: Wine barrel shake test will be conducted on the nation's largest earthquake simulator at the University of California, Berkeley


Contact: Robert Sanders
(510) 643-6998

WHAT: Stacks of wine barrels will be subjected to simulated earthquakes to see how California's wine cellars will be affected by a major quake. The shake test will be conducted on the nation's largest earthquake simulator at the University of California, Berkeley.  
WHEN: Friday, July 28, 10:45 a.m.-12 noon.  
WHERE: UC Berkeley's Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center, 1301 South 46th St., Building 420, Richmond.  
WHO: UC Berkeley graduate student Joshua Marrow will conduct the test and explain the results to wine industry executives viewing the experiment. Marrow predicts that, in a major earthquake, the stacks of wine barrels will likely topple, with some barrels exploding and others bouncing intact but losing their silicon bung, or cork, and spilling their contents.  

VISUALS: Sixty-gallon oak wine barrels donated by Robert Mondavi Winery and filled with water will be stacked in various configurations up to 18 feet high. The stacks, weighing up to 15,000 pounds, will be subjected to heavy shaking exceeding that of the 1994 Northridge earthquake, which had an estimated magnitude of 6.8. The stacks are expected to topple. Special catch harnesses designed for the experiment will prevent the barrels from rolling off the shake table and creating a safety hazard.

BACKGROUND: Data collected from the shake will allow wine industry leaders to estimate their earthquake risk, expected to be considerable. High-end brands stored in traditional oak barrels are more susceptible to spillage than wine stored in steel drums. Most California wineries are located within 30 miles of a major fault, especially those in the Napa and Sonoma valleys, near the Mendocino coast and from Monterey south to San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara.

DIRECTIONS: The Richmond Field Station is off Interstate 580 in Richmond, about six miles from UC Berkeley. Heading north on I-80, take the I-580 West exit and continue to Bayview Ave. Exit and turn left at the top of the ramp, and continue to the stop sign. Proceed straight on Meade St. parallel to the freeway for about 1/4 mile, then turn left onto S. 47th St.. Take an immediate right into the Richmond Field Station and ask at the guard station for directions to the shake table. More complete directions and a map are at


Note: More information can be found on Marrow's Web site,


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