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News: SEAOC News

San Diego Engineers Respond to Mexico Quake

Monday, November 13, 2017  

San Diego Engineers Assist Mexican Engineers with Recovery Efforts and Identify Lessons Learned for the San Diego Region 

Engineers with the Structural Engineers Association of San Diego (SEAOSD) have recently returned from Mexico City after performing post-earthquake reconnaissance activities.  These activities included: working with the local civil engineering professional association, El Colegio de Ingenieros Civiles de Mexico (CICM) and assisting with the evaluation and assessment of existing damaged buildings, investigating the performance of previously retrofitted buildings, and studying the seismic performance of buildings that are similar to the building stock in the San Diego region.

The September 19th magnitude 7.1 earthquake, which struck the Central Mexico region, resulted in 369 confirmed deaths, approximately 40 collapsed buildings, and hundreds if not thousands of damaged buildings and structures.  The quake struck on the 32nd anniversary of the massive 1985 earthquake, which resulted in at least 10,000 deaths.  

Jeremy Callister, SEAOSD Director and Associate Principal with Degenkolb Engineers stated “To observe the extensive damage first hand not only made a profound impact on me as a professional structural engineer, but also on a more personal level.  The social, emotional, and human tolls were just as profound as the physical damage… There are thousands of buildings in San Diego that are vulnerable to earthquakes, and pro-active measures need to be taken to in order to protect the residents of San Diego and the community as a whole.  We cannot continue to ignore the lessons learned from these major earthquakes.”

David Gonzalez, a SEAOSD member and Principal with Reid Middleton added, “From the initial damage reports that surfaced within minutes after the event, I knew this earthquake would have devastating effects on many types of structures.  What I didn’t anticipate was the human resilience and professional volunteer response to the tragedy.  This earthquake is teaching us many technical lessons so we can continue to improve our earthquake engineering practices in the United States.  However, the nontechnical lessons are equally important and provide a humble reminder that we cannot let our guard down when it comes to reducing our exposure to seismic risk hazards.”

Within the next few weeks, SEAOSD will be publishing and distributing a summary of our observations from the September 19, 2017 Mexico City Earthquake, including how lessons learned apply to San Diego’s building stock and earthquake response.  

For information regarding SEAOSD members’ participation in the earthquake reconnaissance activities, the following individuals can be contacted:

Jeremy Callister, SE - – 619.814.7013
David Gonzalez, SE – – 858.668.0707

Non-ductile Concrete Partially Collapsed Structure on Verge of Total Collapse, Threatening Adjacent Residence. (Photo courtesy of Degenkolb Engineers)


Building Retrofit with Exterior Steel Braces in the Early 1980’s.  Performed Well in Both the 1985 and the 2017 Earthquakes.  (Photo courtesy of Degenkolb Engineers)