skip navigation

Team Investigates Highway Damage following Pisco Earthquake in Peru

embankment failure

Professor Emeritus, Julio Kuroiwa, Peru National University of Engineering

On August 15, 2007, a M.8.0 earthquake occurred off the coast of Peru. According to the USGS, the earthquake killed at least 514 people and injured 1,090, destroying more than 35,500 buildings and damaging 4,200 more. Widespread communications and power outages also 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.

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

A detailed reconnaissance report is available from MCEER Publications. Information on Major Peruvian & Chilean Earthquakes of the 20th Century has been compiled by MCEER's Information Service.

Damage to the Highway System

photo of embankment failure on the Pan-American Highway in Peru

Photo credit: Ing. Jack Lopez-Jara

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

Photo of retaining wall failure on a secondary road in Peru

Retaining wall failure on a secondary road in Peru

A rockfall site that closed a secondary road in Peru, with Monique Nykamp

One of many rockfall sites that closed secondary roads; Monique Nykamp of Shannon & Wilson, Inc. is pictured.

photo of buckled road on Peru's Pan American Highway

Photo credit: Dr. Alva

Pan-American Highway near San Clemete, approximately 220 km


USGS Report -- Contains information regarding the quake, initial casualties and damage.

EERI -- Offers a comprehensive list of reports, photos, maps and other resources.

Relief Web -- Information on the disaster and responses to it

BBC News -- News reports of the disaster