abstract

The San Fernando earthquake was an unusually valuable test of school safety because: (1) there were several hundred schools having structures of all types in the heavily shaken area, including 10 schools within 5 miles of the epicenter; (2) the severity of ground motion is believed to have been near the maximum to be expected for an earthquake of any size—a number of campuses were subjected to major ground cracking and deformation; (3) since there were many instruments in the area, the details of the earthquake ground motion are better known than for any other earthquake. On some campuses, pre-Field Act buildings, renovated pre-Field Act buildings, and new buildings existed side by side, and direct comparisons show the efficacy of the Field Act and the associated plan check and field inspection procedures in reducing the earthquake hazard to an acceptably low level. No structural failures, that would have been likely to cause serious injury or death if the buildings had been normally occupied at the time of the earthquake, occurred in any buildings built to current standards. There were, however, some failures of nonstructural elements that could have resulted in a hazardous situation and demonstrate the need for upgrading requirements in this area of building construction.

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