The Next Earthquake

by Virginia Fairweather, Editor in Chief; Civil Engineering Magazine, ASCE World Headquarters, 345 East 47th Street, New York City, NY.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1990, Vol. 60, Issue 3, Pg. 54-57

Document Type: Feature article


The California's October 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake confirmed must of the current research and practice about structural engineering and seismic events. It also highlighted the importance of soils factors in the performance of structures during earthquakes. Virtually all the damage in the San Francisco area was in soft and loose soils, mainly bay muds. Engineers interviewed discuss the adequacy of our codes in regard to soils factors. This is not a new idea, but the concept of microzonation gained credence in this earthquake. Loma Prieta also raised the consciousness of engineers and public officials about standards for retrofitting structures and the money available to do so. The current program for retrofitting bridges in California is described, including new methods, as is the repair program immediately after the October earthquake. Research is another important factor. Many believe that more of the federal research money should go to practical areas such as seismic engineering and architecture and less to pure research in this area. A comparison is made to the earthquake in Armenia one year prior, which caused widespread damage and resulted in the deaths of almost 50,000. Engineering practice in California and Armenia is compared.

Subject Headings: Rehabilitation | Earthquakes | Seismic tests | Developing countries | Earthquake resistant structures | Soft soils | Bays | Mud | California | United States | Armenia | Asia

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