A shallow (15 to 30 km) magnitude (Ms) 6.8 earthquake occurred on 13 March 1992 close to Erzincan city in northeast Turkey (Fig. 1). The earthquake caused the deaths of over 500 people together with severe damage to many thousands of properties. Erzincan is sited towards the northern edge of the alluvial plain of the River Euphrates; the basin is infilled with hundreds of metres of sediments and surrounded by mountains which rise to more than 3000m to the north and south (Figs 2 & 3). The geology and evolution of the basin are described by Barka & Gülen (1989). Peak measured accelerations at the meteorological station, close to the centre of Erzincan, were approximately 0.5g (E-W), 0.4g (N-S) and 0.25 g vertically. Predominant periods were 0.31 s (E-W), 0.95 s (N-S) and 0.16 s (vertical) (EEFIT 1992).
The earthquake was focused on the North Anatolian Fault (NAF), shown in Fig. 4. Damage was highly localized within the region. As indicated in Fig. 2, the majority of damage from the earthquake occurred within a narrow zone, south of, and parallel to, the NAF, yet north of the epicentre. Close to the city centre, many municipal, concrete framed buildings of more than three storeys such as schools, public housing and hospitals, were severely damaged (Figs 5 & 6). However, vertical cuttings through silty sands with some clay, in the same area, survived with little apparent distress (Fig. 7). To the north of the city, on rising ground, concrete-framed and more flimsy