The world's largest vibration simulation centre has broken ground at Shanghai's Tongji University, according to state news agency Xinhua.

The new centre will be able to accurately test whether the city's skyscrapers and stadia are able to withstand earthquakes, as well as observe the effects of earthquakes on structures such as bridges, subways and tunnels.

The centre's four vibrating platforms will be able to carry 200 tonnes, almost double the capacity of the world's largest earthquake simulator at the University of Nevada, Reno, US.

China's largest simulators, which can bear 70 tonnes each, are situated at Beijing's China Academy of Building Research and Chongqing's Communications Research and Design Institute.

The vibrating platforms at Tongji University will be able to generate a simulated quake to test small-scale models, according to Li Jianzhong, professor of civil and structural engineering.

Professor Li was quoted as saying, "With a larger total bearing ability, we can set up a bigger and more elaborate model of a structure to put on the vibrators. It will allow us to see more clearly how a structure is damaged.

"Construction in cities tends to be increasingly higher, and their structure is becoming more complicated. So it's highly important to test their quake-proof ability before building," Li said.

The centre is expected to be commissioned in 2011.

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