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Earthquake Damage Photos
Collapse of Masonry Church
On December 7, 1988, a magnitude 6.9 earthquake shook northwestern Armenia, and was followed four minutes later by a magnitude 5.8 aftershock. The earthquakes affected an area 80 km in diameter. This earthquake devastated the cities of Spitak and Leninakan, where 25,000 deaths occurred. This photo illustrates the collapse of an old stone masonry Armenian church in Leninakan. Churches are vulnerable to earthquake damage because of their high, unsupported roofs. Many such historical buildings either collapsed totally or sustained severe damage.
Photo Credit: C.J. Langer, U.S. Geological Survey
Major Damage to a Sub Division in Anchorage caused by Land Slumping
This damage was caused by an earthquake on March 28, 1964, in Prince William Sound, Alaska. The magnitude 8.5 earthquake killed 131 people and caused $538 million in property damage. An area consisting of 120,700 square kilometres was shaken with damaging intensity. Slumping of an entire subdivision in Anchorage occurred when soil liquefied during the earthquake.At least 75 houses were destroyed. The most probable explanation of the landslide was a loss of strength in underlying soils from the ground shaking. Sand liquefied and clay soils weakened and moved down slope. Slope failure began just a few minutes after the start of the earthquake.
Photo Credit: National Geophysical Data Center
Damage to School Classroom
This earthquake occurred on May 2, 1983 in Central California, 20.8 km from Coalinga affecting an area of 205,000 square kilometres with an estimated $31 million in damages. The most serious damage occurred in the eight-block downtown commercial district, but residences were also heavily damaged. More then 800 single-family houses were destroyed or incurred major damage. The majority of the 94 injuries occurred in residential sections of the city. Failure of pendent light fixtures in this elementary school library would have caused many injuries if the library had been occupied. The light fixtures were hung end to end and unsecured book shelves graphically illustrates the potential danger that major earthquakes pose within school structures.
Photo Credit: Earthquake Engineering Research Institute
Damage to Adobe Strutcture
Earthquake of April 26, 1981, Westmorland, California. View of partially collapsed adobe building in Westmorland. Seventy percent of the 900 homes in Westmoreland were damaged. Most, like this structure, were constructed of adobe and/or brick.
Photo Credit: Bay Area Regional Earthquake Preparedness Project
Damage To Highways And Railroads
One span of the truss bridge of the former Copper River and Northwestern Railroad was dropped into the Copper River by an earthquake, and the other truss spans were shifted on their piers. The bridge construction consisted of concrete piers on concrete caissons below the stream bed. The superstructure consisted of steel trusses.
Photo Credit: U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, CA
Leaning Apartment Houses in Niigata, Japan
A magnitude 7.4 earthquake on June 16, 1964 in Niigata, Japan killed 26 people and destroyed over 3,000 houses and damaged almost 10,000 structures. This is an aerial view of leaning apartment houses in Niigata produced by soil liquefaction and the consequence of poor foundations. Most of the damage was caused by cracking and unequal settlement of the ground.
Photo Credit: National Geophysical Data Center
Surface Waves and Ruptures
An earthquake on October 14, with a magnitude of 6.8 1968 near Meckering, Australia caused $2.2 million in property damage. This earthquake caused the generation of surface waves and ruptures. This aerial view shows a railroad crossing surface rupture near Meckering. The fresh surface rupture was about 30 km long.
Photo Credit: Dr. Bruce Bolt, University of California, Berkeley
Office Building with Partially Destroyed First Floor
On the morning of January 17, 1995, a major earthquake occurred near the City of Kobe, Japan. The greatest intensity of shaking for the 6.9 magnitude earthquake was in a narrow corridor of two to four kilometers stretching 40 km along the coast of Osaka Bay. The worst destruction ran along the previously undetected fault on the coast, east of Kobe. Kobe's major businesses and port facilities, and residences are located on this strip. This earthquake caused 5,480 deaths, and totally destroyed more than 192,000 houses and buildings. The majority of partial or complete collapses were in the older, reinforced concrete buildings built before 1975. However, significant non-structural damage was also observed for buildings of relatively recent steel or composite construction.
Photo credit: Dr. Roger Hutchison
Totally Collapsed and Undamaged Office Buildings
On September 19, 1985, a magnitude 8.1 earthquake occurred off the Pacific coast of Mexico. The damage was concentrated in a 25 square km area of Mexico City, 350 km from the epicentre. The underlying geology and geologic history of Mexico City contributed to this unusual concentration of damage at a distance from the epicentre. Of a population of 18 million, an estimated 10,000 people were killed, and 50,000 were injured. In addition, 250,000 people lost their homes and property damage amounted to $5 billion. In contrast to the totally destroyed office building in the foreground, the 44-floor Torre Latinoamericana office building in the background on the right, remained almost totally undamaged, as it did in a 1957 earthquake. The building was built to resist earthquakes and has 200 piles extending down about 35 meters to load-bearing earth. The tall transmission tower on the left had also been sufficiently designed to withstand large horizontal forces.
Photo credit: Reinsurance Company, Munich, Germany
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