Structural Engineering Reconnaissance of the August 17, 1999 Earthquake: Kocaeli (Izmit), Turkey, PEER Report 2000-09


In late August and early September 1999, a team of structural engineers representing the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research (PEER) Center traveled to Turkey to study damaged and undamaged buildings, bridges, industrial facili- ties, and lifeline infrastructure affected by the August 17, 1999, Izmit earthquake. The PEER reconnaissance team sought to improve the un- derstanding of the performance of the built environment and to identify gaps in a PEER research agenda that is developing knowledge and design tools for performance-based earthquake engineering.

The M w 7.4 earthquake occurred on the North Anatolian fault in northwestern Turkey at 3:02 a.m. local time. The hypocenter of the earthquake was located near Izmit, 90 km east of Istanbul. Official figures placed the loss of life at approximately 17,225, with more than 44,000 injured. Approximately 77,300 homes and businesses were destroyed and 245,000 more were damaged. The total direct loss was estimated to be more than US$ 6 billion. Chapter 1 of this report overviews the general seismicity of the area affected by the earthquake. Chapter 2 reviews briefly the practice of building seismic design and construction in the region, confirming that the construction of reinforced concrete buildings without special details for ductile response (by far the most prevalent form of construction in the epicentral region) was permitted up to the time of the earthquake. The performance of reinforced concrete frame and wall buildings is presented in some detail in Chapter 3. Chapter 4 presents information on the perfor- mance of industrial facilities including electrical substations, a petrochemical plant, and an oil refinery.

The performance of these facilities during the August 17 earthquake could be considered to be representative of that of industrial facilities of a similar age (1960s and 1970s) in the United States and Europe. Chapter 5 summarizes and concludes with brief recommendations related to seismic design practices and performance-based earthquake engineering practice.

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Halil Sezen
Kenneth J. Elwood
Andrew S. Whittaker
Khalid M. Mosalam
John W. Wallace
John F. Stanton
Publication date: 
September 3, 2000
Publication type: 
Technical Report
Sezen, H., Elwood, K. J., Whittaker, A. S., Mosalam, K. M., Wallace, J. W., & Stanton, J. F. ( 2000). Structural Engineering Reconnaissance of the August 17, 1999 Earthquake: Kocaeli (Izmit), Turkey, PEER Report 2000-09. Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center, University of California, Berkeley, CA.