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Flipping the Scripps


The Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier, managed by Scripps Institute of Oceanography, is one of the world's largest research piers. Since its initial construction in 1916, scientific experiments at the pier have furthered understanding of global oceans. Replacing the pier's railings with Type 316L stainless steel posts and cable infill ensures that the research projects can continue safely into the future.

© Shutterstock/Dmitri Kotchetov

In San Diego, California, there is a classroom where sunglasses and swimwear are encouraged. La Jolla beach might seem like the domain of surfers rather than scholars, but its iconic pier is home to world-class academic research. The University of California at San Diego's Scripps Institute provides round-the-clock data on oceanic conditions, including temperature, salinity, plastic degradation and plankton levels. Many of the daily samples are taken by hand and so the pier must remain operational 365 days a year. The pier was upgraded in 2018 with molybdenum-alloyed stainless steel to minimize future maintenance in the highly corrosive seaside environment.

Decades of exposure to punishing wind and waves took their toll on the pier. By 1988, it needed a major renovation. That year the pier's wood planks and railings were replaced with concrete and steel. But after 30 years, the upgrades were beginning to fail, battered day in and day out by the unrelenting Pacific. Several members of the Scripps family donated more than $2.6 million to replace the railing yet again. This time a more resilient construction material, Type 316 stainless steel, was chosen to withstand the constant exposure to wind, waves and aggressive chlorides. The 2% molybdenum in this grade provides added resistance to atmospheric corrosion in marine environments. The pier remained fully operational during the renovation, allowing the researchers to continue their sampling without interruption.

Discover more about the renovation project and the research conducted at the Scripps.

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