San Fernando USA 1971 (SPA)

back to event list
Event ID
197102091400
Event name
San Fernando
Country
USA
Region in the country
Southern California
World region
North America
Epicentral coordinates (long/lat)
POINT(-118.4 34.42)
WKT GIS format
GEMECD contributing partner
SPA
Event narrative

This destructive earthquake occurred north of Los Angeles, California, in a sparsely populated area of the San Gabriel Mountains, near San Fernando. It lasted about 60 seconds.

The earthquake created a zone of discontinuous surface faulting, named the San Fernando fault zone, which partly follows the boundary between the San Gabriel Mountains and the San Fernando - Tujunga Valleys and partly transects the northern salient of the San Fernando Valley.

This latter zone of tectonic ruptures was associated with some of the heaviest property damage sustained in the region. Within the entire length of the surface faulting, which extended roughly east-west for about 15 kilometers, the maximum vertical offset measured on a single scarp was about 1 meter, the maximum lateral offset about 1 meter, and the maximum shortening (thrust component) about 0.9 meters.

Severe ground fracturing and landslides were responsible for extensive damage in areas where faulting was not observed. The most damaging landslide occurred in the Upper Lake area of Van Norman Lakes, where highway overpasses, railroads, pipelines, and almost all structures in the path of the slide were damaged severely. Widespread landslides and rockfalls blocked many highways in the area.

Date of occurrence (UTC)
1971-02-09
date
Time of occurrence (UTC)
14:00:41
time
Date of occurrence (local)
1971-02-09
date
Time of occurrence (local)
06:00:41
time
Day of the week (local)
Tuesday
Magnitude
6.7
Magnitude units
Moment (Mw)
Focal depth
8
km
Seismological data: source
USGS
Overall impact

The 1971 San Fernando earthquake resulted in 65 killed, injured more than 2,500, and caused property damage estimated at US$505 million.

Several overpasses collapsed. Two dams were damaged severely (Lower Van Norman Dam and Pacoima Dam), and three others sustained minor damage.

Felt throughout southern California and into western Arizona and southern Nevada.

No foreshocks were recorded, but aftershocks were reported in the area for several months.

The most spectacular damage included the destruction of major structures at the Olive View and the Veterans Administration Hospitals and the collapse of freeway overpasses.

The newly built, earthquake-resistant buildings at the Olive View Hospital in Sylmar were destroyed - four five-story wings pulled away from the main building and three stair towers toppled.

Older, unreinforced masonry buildings collapsed at the Veterans Administration Hospital at San Fernando, killing 49 people.

Many older buildings in the Alhambra, Beverly Hills, Burbank, and Glendale areas were damaged beyond repair, and thousands of chimneys were damaged in the region.

Public utilities and facilities of all kinds were damaged, both above and below ground.

(Abridged and adapted from Seismicity of the United States, 1568-1989 (Revised), by Carl W. Stover and Jerry L. Coffman, U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1527, United States Government Printing Office, Washington: 1993)

Overview data
Loss: Human Casualty
show
hide
People injured
2543
number
People injured: source
NOAA
People injured: comment

Steinbrugge and Schader in NOAA (1973) San Fernando, California, Earthquake of February 9, 1971. L.M. Murphy, editor. Vol. 1, Part B: Effect on Buildings; U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Washington.


People seriously injured
215
number
People seriously injured: source
NOAA
People seriously injured: comment

Steinbrugge and Schader in NOAA (1973) San Fernando, California, Earthquake of February 9, 1971. L.M. Murphy, editor. Vol. 1, Part B: Effect on Buildings; U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Washington.


People missing
0
number

People killed
65
number
People killed: source
USGS
People killed: comment

http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/states/us_deaths.php although Steinbrugge and Schader (1973) report 58 killed


People killed due to ground shaking
58
number

People dying post catastrophe due to shaking: comment

Unknown

People dying post catastrophe due to shaking: status
N/A

People missing due to tsunami
0
number
People killed due to tsunami
0
number
People missing due to fire following
0
number
People killed due to fire following
0
number
People missing due to slope failures
0
number
People killed due to slope failures
0
number
Loss: Building damage
show
hide
Total number of buildings destroyed by shaking
1154
number
Total number of buildings destroyed by shaking: source
NOAA
Total number of buildings destroyed by shaking: comment

Steinbrugge and Schader in NOAA (1973) San Fernando, California, Earthquake of February 9, 1971. L.M. Murphy, editor. Vol. 1, Part B: Effect on Buildings; U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Washington.


Number of buildings damaged by shaking
6507
number
Number of buildings damaged by shaking: source
NOAA
Number of buildings damaged by shaking: comment

Steinbrugge and Schader in NOAA (1973) San Fernando, California, Earthquake of February 9, 1971. L.M. Murphy, editor. Vol. 1, Part B: Effect on Buildings; U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Washington.


Number of dwellings destroyed by shaking
1692
number
Number of dwellings destroyed by shaking: source
NOAA
Number of dwellings destroyed by shaking: comment

Steinbrugge and Schader in NOAA (1973) San Fernando, California, Earthquake of February 9, 1971. L.M. Murphy, editor. Vol. 1, Part B: Effect on Buildings; U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Washington.


Number of dwellings damaged by shaking
27612
number
Number of dwellings damaged by shaking: source
NOAA
Number of dwellings damaged by shaking: comment

Steinbrugge and Schader in NOAA (1973) San Fernando, California, Earthquake of February 9, 1971. L.M. Murphy, editor. Vol. 1, Part B: Effect on Buildings; U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Washington.


Loss: Socioeconomic
show
hide
People homeless: status
N/A

Direct economic loss
498
million US$
Direct economic loss: comment

500 to 1000 million US$ damage has also be reported (Jennings, P.C., 1997: Enduring lessons and opportunities lost from the San Fernando earthquake of February 9, 1971. Earthquake Spectra, Vol. 13, No. 1, p. 25-44)


Indirect economic loss: status
N/A

Insured loss
48.6
million US$
Demographics
show
hide
Total number of buildings: status
N/A