Natural Hazards

, Volume 63, Issue 2, pp 521–547 | Cite as

Observations of damage to buildings from M w 7.6 Padang earthquake of 30 September 2009

  • S. M. Wilkinson
  • J. E. Alarcon
  • R. Mulyani
  • J. Whittle
  • S. C. Chian
Original Paper


On 30 September 2009 at 05:16 pm local time (10:16 am UTC), a major earthquake registering a magnitude M w 7.6 occurred off the coast of Padang in West Sumatra. This paper presents the observations from a reconnaissance mission that investigated the performance of structures, infrastructure and geotechnical structures within the affected region. As well as presenting the detailed observations made on the mission, insights as to why structures failed and deficiencies in the construction practices of the region are also presented. Considering the high seismic risk of this area and that seismic gaps suggest another earthquake with a magnitude greater than 8.7 may occur, these observations are particularly significant. One of the vital features of this earthquake was a number of very large and devastating landslides that occurred in the district of Pariaman. These landslides were not only extensive, but had an extremely high lethality. Another key feature of the earthquake was the surprisingly high number of government buildings that collapsed. The paper concludes by presenting a number of recommendations for both the rebuilding of failed structures as well as for hazard assessments of existing structures and geotechnical features.


Earthquake Structures Buildings Landslides Sumatra 



This research was funded by the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council of the UK. Their continued support for these reconnaissance missions is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. M. Wilkinson
    • 1
  • J. E. Alarcon
    • 2
  • R. Mulyani
    • 3
  • J. Whittle
    • 4
  • S. C. Chian
    • 5
  1. 1.School of Civil Engineering and GeosciencesNewcastle UniversityNewcastle upon TyneUK
  2. 2.Willis ReLondonUK
  3. 3.Department of Civil and Structural EngineeringUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK
  4. 4.Department of Engineering ScienceUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  5. 5.Department of EngineeringUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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