Nazarbayev University and KazNIISA signed a Memorandum of Cooperation: How will this benefit NU SEDS and Kazakhstan?

This Memorandum aims to establish and develop cooperation between the University and JSC “Kazakh Research and Design Institute of Construction and Architecture” (KazNIISA). Two sides agreed to do academic research on “Probabilistic seismic hazard assessment with local site effects for existing and new structures in Kazakhstan.” This research aims to evaluate the hazard and risk posed by earthquakes to structures in the southern and south-eastern Kazakhstan. The hazard and risk assessment will include probabilistic seismic hazard analysis (VASA) taking into account local effects (deep soil deposits) and structural-dynamic analysis based on an interdisciplinary approach, including seismology and civil engineering.

As part of the Memorandum, the parties intend to conduct joint activities such as research, lectures, symposiums, and the exchange of researchers. They also will exchange vital information and materials in those fields, which are of interest to both sides, and notification of the other part regarding scientific and educational events.

In addition, the parties agreed to make every effort to develop cooperation in the areas of mutual interest and inform each other about promising projects.

The document was signed by the President of Nazarbayev University, Shigeo Katsu, and by the Managing Director for Production of KazNIICA, Yeraly Shokbarov.

To understand the importance of this event, it is worth explaining what KazNIISA does. KazNIISA is the only one in the Republic of Kazakhstan, the leading specialized state research and design organization on the problems of earthquake-proof construction.

Cooperation with KazNIISA benefits the School of Engineering and Digital Sciences at Nazarbayev University.

Sung-Woo Moon, the initiator of the signing of this critical document, Assistant professor at the School, and Principal Investigator of this project, told us this in a conversation with us.

“First, NU SEDS will be able to do collaborative research. Second, new opportunities will open up for our project. For example, for seismic microzonation, shear wave velocity profiles would be compiled, and multiple test sites (with permission to access) for conducting MASW test, Microtremor, and Seismometer test would be suggested. Undisturbed soil samples from the test sites would be obtained to determine dynamic soil properties. In addition, information on existing soil profiles and soil engineering properties in Kazakhstan will be compiled. For structural seismic vulnerability assessment, design and construction information (e.g., structural types, construction materials, structural geometries, and structural details) for existing and new structures in Kazakhstan would be compiled,” said Sung-Woo Moon.

He emphasized that this cooperation is beneficial not only for both sides but also for the country.

” In the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, several destructive earthquakes (e.g., 1885 Belovodskoe, 1887 Verny, 1889 Chilik, and 1911 Chon-Kemin) in this territory of Kazakhstan, and a series of earthquakes of smaller magnitude have been recorded frequently. Although seismic hazard assessment has already been conducted in Kazakhstan, it would be beneficial not only to NU and KazNIICA but also to Kazakhstan to have more accurate and up-to-date seismic microzonation and seismic hazard assessment. It would be the first trial to conduct the geophysical testing with MASW, MM in Kazakhstan and to consider depth-dependent site coefficients,” commented Sung-Woo Moon.

He also added that based on continuous discussions with KazNIISA, they would suggest a couple of possible test sites with geotechnical site investigation reports this week.

“Once my research team goes through the data and available test sites, we will discuss further action plans (e.g., make subcontract, visit the test sites and conduct a series of tests) with KazNIISA.”

The project started this year and it is scheduled for completion in 2024.

“The anticipated outcomes of the project are to conduct seismic microzonation, develop depth-dependent site coefficients and probabilistic seismic hazard maps, assess seismic vulnerability for structures in the southern and south-eastern Kazakhstan. Based on these risk assessment results, recommendations for the design and retrofitting of new and existing structures will be proposed to government authorities who deal with geotechnical, structural design and seismic risk reduction,” says Sung-Woo Moon, adding that it is a Collaborative Research Program.

As part of the project, Nazarbayev University is collaborating with Eurasian National University, Kazakhstan, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), USA, the National University of Singapore (NUS), Singapore, the Ulan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), Korea and Konkuk University, Korea.