University of California, Los Angeles
January 31 – February 4, 2022

ASCE Resiliance

UCLA Samueli School of Engineering

Paul C. Jennings

Professor of Civil Engineering and Applied Mechanics, Emeritus
California Institute of Technology

Professor Jennings received his B.S. degree from Colorado State University and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the California Institute of Technology. After serving in the United States Air Force he joined the faculty of Caltech in 1966. At Caltech he has served as Chairman of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science, Vice President and Provost and Acting Vice President for Business and Finance.

He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a past President and Honorary Member of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, a past President of the Seismological Society of America, and a Fellow, past-chair and former board member of the California Council on Science and Technology. He is an active Emeritus Trustee of Olin College of Engineering. His awards include the Newmark Medal and the Huber Prize of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Housner Medal of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute.

Professor Jennings is the author and editor of numerous technical papers and reports on earthquake engineering and the dynamics of structures and has served as earthquake engineering consultant on several major projects, including the design of high-rise buildings, offshore drilling towers and nuclear power plants. He served as a member of the Engineering Panel of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on the Alaskan Earthquake and was Co-Editor of the “Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964-Engineering”. He was a member of California Governor Deukmejian’s Board of Inquiry on the Loma Prieta earthquake and chaired the city of Pasadena’s City Hall Restoration Oversight Committee. He has chaired several committees of the National Academy of Engineering, including the Committee on Natural Disasters, the Draper Prize Committee and the Gordon Prize Committee. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences Earthquake Engineering and Hazards Reduction Delegation to the Peoples Republic of China after the Tangshan earthquake and edited the Delegation’s report.

He was editor and one of the authors of Caltech’s report “Engineering Features of the San Fernando Earthquake” in 1971 and wrote “Enduring Lessons and Opportunities Lost from the San Fernando Earthquake of February 9, 1971”, which appeared in Earthquake Spectra 26 years after the earthquake.

Presentation: 50 Years after the San Fernando Earthquake​


Shortly after the San Fernando Earthquake of February 9, 1971, a panel of distinguished scientists and engineers was appointed by the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering to report on the lessons learned from the earthquake. The panelists were Clarence Allen, Bruce Bolt, Anton Hales, Robert Hamilton, John Handin, George Housner, Don Hudson, Carl Kisslinger, Jack Oliver and Karl Steinbrugge. The report was written promptly and was submitted to the President of the United States on March 22, 1971. This group pointed out 18 lessons from the earthquake. The title itself, “The San Fernando Earthquake of February 9, 1971—Lessons from a Moderate Earthquake on the Fringe of a Densely Populated Region” made it clear to its audience that more destructive earthquakes were quite possible.
Twenty-five years later the author was asked to prepare a retrospective look at the San Fernando Earthquake. The result: ”Enduring Lessons and Opportunities Lost from the San Fernando Earthquake of February 9, 1971”, was published in the journal Earthquake Spectra in February of 1997. In that paper, the author reviewed the status of the eighteen general lessons provided by the Panel, plus two more selected from other studies of the earthquake.
This presentation will review the status of these lessons 25 years after the San Fernando Earthquake and comment selectively on their status now, 50 years after this very important event.