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January 17, 1994, Northridge Earthquake, California.

pdf icon January 17, 1994, Northridge Earthquake, California. (8443 K)
Lew, H. S.; Cooper, J. D.; Hacopian, S.; Hays, W.; Mahoney, M.

NIST SP 871; September 1994.

U.S./Japan Natural Resources Development Program (UJNR). Wind and Seismic Effects. Joint Meeting of the U.S./Japan Cooperative Program in Natural Resources Panel on Wind and Seismic Effects, 26th. May 17-20, 1994, Gaithersburg, MD, Raufaste, N. J., Jr., Editor(s), 375-426 pp, 1994.

Available from:

Government Printing Office
Order number: SN003-003-03297-2


earthquakes; bridges (structures); lifelines; design performance; evaluation


The magnitude 6.8 earthquake occurred during the pre-dawn hours of January 17, 1994 provided a crucial test for assessing our progress in earthquake resistant design and construction over the past two decades, following a similar magnitude event, the San Fernando earthquake in 1971. A reconnaissance team was organized by NIST through the auspices of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program and the Interagency Committee on Seismic Safety in Construction, to observe the damage, assess the performance of various types of engineering structures, and document the effects of the earthquake on the built environment: buildings, bridges, and lifeline systems. This paper summarizes what we learned from the reconnaissance effort. More detailed documentation has been presented in an NIST Special Publication 862, "1994 Northridge Earthquake: Performance of Structures, Lifelines, and Fire Protection Systems."