07/22/10 Bloomberg.com — U.S. regulators could end a blanket ban on deep-water oil drilling by increasing oversight of troubled wells and improving safety industrywide, a UC Berkeley engineering professor who studies catastrophes said in an interim report on the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico. Robert Bea said regulators should determine which drilling operations should be suspended "on a case-by-case basis" as the industry works to improve blowout prevention equipment, inspection procedures and worker training programs.
07/16/10 The New York Times — Energy Secretary and former director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Steven Chu may hold a Nobel Prize in physics, but he has no training in geology, seismology or oil well technology. Nevertheless, he has stepped in repeatedly to take command of the effort to contain BP's runaway well, often ordering company officials to take steps they might not have taken on their own.
07/12/10 California Magazine — In 1985, Jack Moehle, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Berkeley, traveled to Chile to sort through the rubble left in the wake of the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake that rocked the coast. He was one of a number of Californian and Chilean engineers who collaborated to study the structural damage. As a result of their research, both the United States and Chile modified their building codes to nearly identical standards. This year, Moehle and a Berkeley reconnaissance team returned to Chile in the aftermath of the 8.8 magnitude shaker on February 27. Because of the similarity in building codes, the sort of damage Moehle has found could predict how California would fare in a major quake.
05/27/10 San Francisco Chronicle — A mock-up bridge and a mock-up rail car shook, rattled, but never rolled as earthquake engineers from UC Berkeley demonstrated a system designed to keep bridge traffic moving even in the strongest of seismic shaking. The 30-foot, scale-model bridge, designed and built by researchers at the university's Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center, was erected on a huge "shake table" that created the same violent ground motions that have marked major quakes in California, Japan and Chile.
05/21/10 MSNBC — Dr. Robert Bea of UC Berkeley came to the nation's capital this week with a message about what went wrong on the Deepwater Horizon rig. His preliminary findings, based on accounts from rig employees and others, suggest that the accident was the result of a series of mistakes and flawed decisions which had compromised safety.
05/13/10 Bloomberg — U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu signaled his lack of confidence in the industry experts trying to control BP's leaking oil well by hand-picking a team of scientists with reputations for creative problem solving. BP has described conditions around its leaking offshore well as resembling those in outer space. Chu selected one scientist with experience operating on Mars, George Cooper, a civil engineering professor at UC Berkeley. Cooper once worked with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to modify mining techniques on earth for use on Mars.
05/12/10 Los Angeles Times — Robert Bea, a UC Berkeley engineering professor who is conducting an informal assessment of the Deepwater Horizon wellhead blast, said Tuesday that BP documents leaked to him indicate that contaminants in cement encasing the well were the initial cause of the explosion that led to the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
05/10/10 The New York Times — As hopes dim for containing the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico anytime soon, more people are asking why the industry was not better prepared to react. "They [oil industry engineers] have horribly underestimated the likelihood of a spill and therefore horribly underestimated the consequences of something going wrong," said Robert G. Bea, a professor at UC Berkeley who studies offshore drilling. "So what we have now is some equivalent of a fire drill with paper towels and buckets for cleanup."
05/07/10 Science Friday — The oil continues to gush from the sunken Deepwater Horizon oil platform in the Gulf -- and the official solution for stopping the flow, which involves finding the borehole and drilling into it at an angle -- could take weeks. But are there other options? Some people, such as UC Berkeley professor of civil and environmental engineering Robert Bea, are looking outside the box for engineering solutions
05/05/10 True/Slant — The effectiveness of the cleanup of the massive oil slick from the explosion of BP's oil rig Deep Horizon in the Gulf Mexico will be both a matter of speed and technology. And on both fronts, we may lose. Nearly impossible to clean up will be whatever is below the surface. UC Berkeley engineering professor Robert Bea, who serves on a National Academy of Engineering panel on oil pipeline safety, says, "There's an equal amount that could be subsurface too." And that oil below the surface "is damn near impossible to track."
05/05/10 — About every 10 days, falling rock shatters the tranquility of Yosemite National Park. "It's a dynamic place," says park geologist Greg Stock. "Rockfall is the most powerful geologic force acting on the park today. The goal is to eventually predict rockfalls and better constrain the hazard." Enter Valerie Zimmer, a Berkeley geoengineering Ph.D. student who launched her doctoral work studying rockfall in mines using tiny acoustic sensors to document the rock mechanics and geophysical forces underground.
03/02/10 CNN.com — Earthquakes alone don't kill people; collapsed buildings do. But can people engineer buildings that wouldn't crumble when subjected to the rumblings of the Earth? High costs keep countries such as Haiti from adopting the latest building techniques and technologies, said Nicholas Sitar, professor of civil and environmental engineering at UC Berkeley. He said making buildings more basic might actually make them stronger and would cost less than high-tech upgrades
02/27/10 Gwinnett Daily Online — Chile's preparedness and the extent of Saturday's earthquake explain why the loss of life and property was far less than the death and destruction Haiti's less powerful quake caused last month, experts say. "The Haiti earthquake was shallower, the high population area was closer to the fault that ruptured and, very importantly, the buildings and infrastructure in Chile are designed considering earthquake effects - whereas Haiti had no building codes,'' said Jonathan Bray, an earthquake engineering professor with the University of California, Berkeley.
01/26/10 Oakland Tribune — Haiti's construction industry is to blame for hundreds of thousands of deaths in a tragedy that will repeat itself unless there are changes to building practices there, a Berkeley engineer said Tuesday. In one of the first technical reports on this month's earthquake, Eduardo Fierro, president of BFP Engineers, presented his preliminary findings at UC Berkeley following a week of reconnaissance in Haiti that started just two days after the magnitude 7.0 quake struck Jan. 12.
01/23/10 CBS News — Researchers tell us America gets a "B+" for knowing what causes earthquakes, but a "C+" when it comes to securing infrastructure. Short-term predictions are simply not possible yet, and earthquakes can happen in places you wouldn't expect. Khalid Mosalam, an engineering professor at UC Berkeley, works in one of 15 university labs across the U.S. testing port stability, how much stress steel beams can handle and what happens inside a building during an earthquake. "Any heavy content of the building if not secured to the walls of the building, they would tend to be tossed around," Mosalam said, adding that such objects would also cause injuries or worse.
05/02/09 — If the Hayward Fault ruptures during a Cal home game, Memorial Stadium fans would be in for a wild ride. But they should be safe-even if they're seated in the most vulnerable end-zone sections. That's the outcome that David Friedman (B.S'75 CE) envisions for the massive retrofit of UC Berkeley's landmark but seismically poor football venue. Friedman, senior principal at San Francisco–based Forell/Elsesser Engineers, is the lead engineer for the stadium's renovation. Built in 1923, Memorial Stadium straddles the Hayward Fault and is in need of seismic upgrades.