Chronological Earthquake Index
San Fernando Earthquake
TYPE OF FAULTING: thrust
TIME: February 9, 1971 / 6:01 am PST
LOCATION: 34° 24.67' N, 118° 24.04' W
DEPTH: 8.4 km
FAULT INVOLVED: San Fernando fault zone; minor offset reported on the eastern Santa Susana fault zone
Also known as the Sylmar Earthquake, this earthquake occurred on the San Fernando fault zone, a zone of thrust faulting which broke the surface in the Sylmar-San Fernando Area. The total surface rupture was roughly 19 km (12 miles) long. The maximum slip was up to 2 meters (6 feet).
The earthquake caused over $500 million in property damage and 65 deaths. Most of the deaths occurred when the Veteran's Administration Hospital collapsed. Several other hospitals, including the Olive View Community Hospital in Sylmar (pictured below) suffered severe damage. Newly constructured freeway overpasses also collapsed, in damage scenes similar to those which occurred 23 years later in the 1994 Northridge Earthquake. Loss of life could have been much greater had the earthquake struck at a busier time of day.