We map the shaking intensity suffered in Los Angeles County during the 17 January 1994, Northridge earthquake using municipal safety inspection data. The intensity is estimated from the number of buildings given red, yellow, or green tags, aggregated by census tract. Census tracts contain from 200 to 4000 residential buildings and have an average area of 6 km2 but are as small as 2 and 1 km2 in the most densely populated areas of the San Fernando Valley and downtown Los Angeles, respectively. In comparison, the zip code areas on which standard MMI intensity estimates are based are six times larger, on average, than the census tracts. We group the buildings by age (before and after 1940 and 1976), by number of housing units (one, two to four, and five or more), and by construction type, and we normalize the tags by the total number of similar buildings in each census tract. We analyze the seven most abundant building categories. The fragilities (the fraction of buildings in each category tagged within each intensity level) for these seven building categories are adjusted so that the intensity estimates agree. We calibrate the shaking intensity to correspond with the modified Mercalli intensities (MMI) estimated and compiled by Dewey et al. (1995); the shapes of the resulting isoseismals are similar, although we underestimate the extent of the MMI = 6 and 7 areas. The fragility varies significantly between different building categories (by factors of 10 to 20) and building ages (by factors of 2 to 6). The post-1940 wood-frame multi-family (???5 units) dwellings make up the most fragile building category, and the post-1940 wood-frame single-family dwellings make up the most resistant building category.
Additional publication details
Using safety inspection data to estimate shaking intensity for the 1994 Northridge earthquake