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MCEER Bulletin, Volume 21, Number 3, Fall 2007

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Volume 21, Number 3, Fall 2007

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Team Investigates Highway Damage following the Pisco, Peru Earthquake

retaining wall

Embankment failure due to liquefaction on the
Pan-American Highway near the Pacific Ocean
about 190 km south of Lima, Peru

Photo credit: Ing. Jack Lopez

retaining wall

Retaining wall failure on a secondary road

On August 15, 2007, a Mw 8.0, e arthquake occurred off the coast of Peru. According to the USGS, the earthquake killed over 500 people and injured more than 1,000, destroying more than 35,500 buildings and damaging 4,200 more. Widespread communications and power outages occurred. The Pan-American Highway and other transportation routes suffered heavy damage due to landslides and faulting that resulted from liquefaction of sandy and silty soils near the Pacific Ocean.

On September 21-28, 2007, MCEER’s Jerome O’Connor, Senior Program Officer for Transportation Research, and ASCE field investigation team members Lucero Mesa, South Carolina Dept. of Transportation, and Monique Nykamp, Shannon & Wilson, Inc., visited the area to conduct a post-earthquake investigation of damage to the highway system. Upon arrival, the team was briefed on road damage by Professor Julio Kuroiwa, Professor Emeritus at Peru’s National University of Engineering and Scientific Advisor to Peru’s Civil Defense. Prof. Kuroiwa also shared much information on disaster reduction that appears in a comprehensive book that he has prepared for the United Nations. They then spent several days documenting damage that occurred to bridges, as well as embankments, pavements, culverts and retaining walls.

group photo

The investigation team (from left): Jerry O'Connor, Monique Nykamp and Lucero Mesa


The team surveyed several major highway systems in the earthquake-stricken area

Julio Kuroiwa

Professor Emeritus Julio Kuroiwa briefed the field investigation team

The post-earthquake investigation was conducted under MCEER’s Highway Project, which is funded by the Federal Highway Administration.

A reconnaissance report will be available from MCEER in the coming months.