Tucson Chapter Lunch Meeting: Landscape Evolution Observatory

  • 16 Jan 2013
  • 11:30 AM
  • Rincon Market (meeting room -entrance off of Tucson Blvd.))
  • 19


  • All Registrations after October 16th.

Registration is closed


Landscape Evolution Observatory (LEO)

Speaker: Mr. Allan Ortega, PE.


To meet the challenge of predicting landscape-scale changes in Earth system behavior, the University of Arizona has designed and constructed a new large-scale scientific facility - Landscape Evolution Observatory (LEO) located inside of the existing Biosphere 2 structure north of Tucson.  The primary objectives of this observatory are to quantify interactions of various soil characteristics with emerging hillside development.  LEO consists of three identical, sloping,  3500 ft^2 convergent landscapes inside a 54,000 ft^2 environmentally controlled facility.


Each of the 3 landscapes are created by the construction of 38ft x 100ft sloping steel tray structures with a 10% slope.  Ten load cells for each tray are embedded into the structure supports to measure changes in total system mass with 0.05% full-scale repeatability in order quantify  evapotranspiration and other changes in the mass. Constructing these large trays inside of an existing facility over a basement structure with only a 10 ft x 12 ft access into the facility included many challenges.  The use of BIM technology proved to be very advantageous as well as laser scanning technology used to accurately model the interior space of the existing structure.  This technology especially assisted in helping the steel fabricator in understanding the complexity of the project prior to fabrication.


This presentation will show some of the structural challenges that the design and construction phases presented to this exciting project which is the largest in the world in its class. This project was featured in the November edition of NCSEA Structure Magazine.


Please join us for what is sure to be another fine presentation.

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