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The Marmara, Turkey Earthquake of August  17, 1999: Reconnaissance Report cover of turkey recon report

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by George C. Lee
Director, Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research

Over the years, MCEER has supported many rapid surveys and reconnaissance visits to areas hit by severe earthquakes. Observations in the field as soon as possible following a major earthquake are one of the important ways in which vital data can be gathered and important lessons learned. In order to realize our vision of "earthquake resilient communities," these often tragic events must be investigated to validate our collective knowledge and to discover new insight into success stories and failures.

Our multidisciplinary team members conduct their reconnaissance visits primarily to support and foster knowledge development within MCEER’s research program. The mission of the research program is to investigate how advanced and emerging technologies can be adapted and implemented to reduce earthquake hazards. Research efforts focus on development and calibration of loss estimation methodologies, damage evaluation, detection and response technologies, and development of retrofit strategies for critical facilities (such as lifelines, buildings and their contents, and bridges). The time period immediately following a destructive earthquake offers a critical window of opportunity to determine more closely the "weak links," reasons for failure or unacceptable performance, and to observe the success stories.

The observations and recommendations made by our team members are presented in this report, for the benefit of people in seismic regions throughout the world. Only by absorbing the technical and institutional lessons from these events, and then further developing our understanding and potential solutions in the laboratory and in our communities, can the potential for future tragedies be reduced.




This report and the reconnaissance effort which made it possible are a collaborative effort between many investigators and institutions. Sponsorship of these activities was provided primarily by the Earthquake Engineering Research Centers Program of the National Science Foundation and the Federal Highway Administration through the Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (MCEER). This support is gratefully acknowledged. Several of the authors were also members of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute’s (EERI) reconnaissance team, and/or the Geotechnical Reconnaissance team supported by the National Science Foundation.

The authors wish to collectively acknowledge the support and cooperation of the Turkish people who so willingly provided assistance during a very traumatic time. Many had the kindness and willingness to freely share information and provide access to damaged facilities.

The authors also wish to acknowledge the generous assistance of many organizations, agencies and individuals who made their visit possible and whose employees gave freely of their time and expertise. Some of these organizations and individuals are listed below and others are identified in the body of the report. They include:

• Professor Ayse Akalin, Department of Sociology, Bogaziçi University
• Mr. Rafael Alaluf, YESA, Istanbul
• Mr. Ismail Baris, Mayor of Gölcük
• Dr. Nesrin Basöz, K2 Technologies
• Professor Faruk Birtek, Department of Sociology, Bogaziçi University
• Mr. Serkan Bozkurt, IMAGINS
• Dr. H.T. Durgunoglu, Zetas Earth Technology Corporation, Istanbul
• Professor Mustafa Erdik, Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute
• Mr. Fakir Erdogan, Turkish Electricity Generation-Transmission Corporation
• Dr. Semih Ergintav, TÜBITAK
• Dr. Polat Gülkan, Middle East Technical University
• Mr. Gürsel Hanci, Safak Güvenlik
• Mr. Marin Jordanov, EQE International, Sofia, Bulgaria
• Professor Elif Kale, Department of Sociology, Bogaziçi University
• T. Karadayilar, Zetas Earth Technology Corporation, Istanbul
• C. Emren Öge, Zetas Earth Technology Corporation, Istanbul
• Mr. Atilla Özdikmen, Alter Uluslararasi
• Professor Nazmiye Özgüç, University of Istanbul
• Mr. Baris Öztek, Birikim DA
• Mr. Mike Price, Operations Manager, Izmit Water Project
• Mr. Larry Roeder, U.S. State Department
• Dr. Betlem Rosich, ESA/ESRIN
• Mr. Turgay Türker, Türker Engineering
• Mr. Kadri Vezirolu, Vice Mayor of the City of Izmit
• Dr. M. Namik Yalçin, TÜBITAK
• Dr. Hülya Yildirim, TÜBITAK

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