Historic Earthquakes

1972 December 23 06:29:42 UTC
Magnitude 6.2

Damage Photos

Damage Photo Aerial photograph of downtown Managua shows still-smoldering rubble in region of heaviest earthquake damage. This view, taken from 3,000 feet by a National Aeronautics and Space Administration C-130, is part of extensive photographic coverage of the area being used by NOAA scientists to evaluate damage patterns.
Damage Photo Construction equipment knocks down remaining walls of a building damaged in the Managua earthquake. Large areas of the city were declared "contaminated areas" and leveled and covered with lime to serve as mass graves.
Damage Photo A Nicaraguan soldier patrols against looters in the ruined city of Managua after the devastating earthquake.
Damage Photo Damage to structures in Managua, and the distribution of damage, were consistent with a shallow focus near the center of the city. A type of construction common locally, in which walls consist of a wooden frame filled with rubble (upper left), frequently performed poorly because the timber frames were rotten or termite-ridden. Some modern buildings performed well and suffered only slight structural damage. Others were badly damaged, with failure frequently resulting from the use of stiff masonry walls in reinforced concrete frames, which caused high stresses and damage at the corners of the frames (upper right) and typical "X-cracks" or shear cracks in the masonry walls. Failure of columns in the American-Nicaraguan school (lower left) resulted in partial collapse, with the top two stories tipping forward into the crushed lower stories. Damage decreased rapidly away from town. These masonry resisdences (lower right) only three miles from the earthquake source were undamaged.
Damage Photo This Managua nigthclub collapsed during the December 23 shaking, killing dozens of the late-night patrons.
Damage Photo The United States embassy in Managua sustained heavy damage in the December earthquake. A ground crack (upper left) and possible surface trace of the causative fault snakes toward the embassy grounds, where a carport (upper right) collapsed and buildings (lower row) showed X-cracking and collapse.
Damage Photo Damaged office building southeast of the downtown area.
Damage Photo Hotel in downtown Managua. Note collapse of lower level(s).