Remember when a team of UCLA scientists visited Sherman Island in the west Delta, built a fake levee and simulated an earthquake?
I feel nauseated just thinking about it. The island moved beneath our feet as if we were standing on a boat. And I don’t do well on boats.
Despite all the motion, the supposedly fragile peat soil did not break apart and swallow the “levee” as researchers half expected it might. Indeed, the little levee held its own.
Almost one year later, those UCLA folks are coming back to the Delta on Wednesday to run the experiment again, the state Department of Water Resources announced today. This time they plan to wet down the soil first, said DWR spokesman Ted Thomas.
According to the team’s website, the fact that the fake levee held the first time was not necessarily evidence that a real levee would hold, because the groundwater level was low at the time.
“Saturated peat is much softer and weaker, and the unsaturated crust layer likely shielded the underlying saturated peat from the shaking energy,” the team concluded.
I’d say “If at first you don’t succeed…” but it’s more like, “If at first the levee doesn’t fail…”
You know the rest.