Media Advisory
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Symposium to mark 20-year anniversary of Loma Prieta

Contact: Sarah Yang, Media Relations
(510) 643-7741

13 October 2009

ATTENTION: Science, engineering, policy and general assignment reporters and editors


"Loma Prieta Earthquake Commemorative Symposium," a day-long program marking the 20th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake. It is being hosted by the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center (PEER), headquartered at the University of California, Berkeley.

The event will look back on lessons learned from the magnitude 6.9 quake, which struck the San Francisco Bay Area on Oct. 17, 1989, killing 63 people and injuring thousands more.

The symposium's 11 co-sponsors include the U.S. Geological Survey, the city and county of San Francisco, and the California Department of Transportation.


Saturday, Oct. 17, 8:30 a.m. - 4:15 p.m. See online program for more details.


InterContinental Mark Hopkins Hotel, One Nob Hill, San Francisco. Directions are online.


Speakers will include earth scientists, policy makers, structural and geotechnical engineers, and experts in lifeline networks, transportation structures, government response and disaster recovery.


Experts will evaluate the strides in improved safety made in the past two decades, but also address remaining challenges, such as:

  • Decreased government funding of earthquake-targeted research and mitigation programs
  • Poor utilization of advances in earthquake science in recovery and mitigation planning
  • Too much focus on post-disaster preparedness; not enough on pre-event risk reduction
  • Mitigation programs needed for vulnerable structure types beyond unreinforced masonry
  • Improved coordination needed among lifeline agencies to plan post-earthquake response, repair and recovery

"We've come a long way in 20 years, but we're still not where we want to be when it comes to risk reduction in a major earthquake," said Stephen Mahin, director of PEER and UC Berkeley professor of civil and environmental engineering. "Action is needed now on the part of our cities and communities so that the next big earthquake becomes a quickly recoverable challenge instead of a catastrophic disaster."

PEER, established in 1997, brings together researchers from 20 universities and several consulting companies to conduct research in earthquake-related geohazard assessment, geotechnical and structural engineering, risk management and public policy.