U.S. Geological Survey
Digital Data Series DDS-29
Version 1.2

The October 17, 1989, Loma Prieta, California, Earthquake—Selected Photographs

By John K. Nakata, Charles E. Meyer, Howard G. Wilshire, John C. Tinsley, William S. Updegrove, D.M. Peterson, Stephen D. Ellen, Ralph A. Haugerud, Robert J. McLaughlin, G. Reid Fisher, and Michael F. Diggles



Charles G. Groat, Director

image of house fallen down a hill


This publication consists of the online version of a CD-ROM publication, U.S. Geological Survey Digital Data Series DDS-29. The data for this publication total 606 MB on the CD-ROM and 564 MB for this online version. This online version does not include the Acrobat Search index files. It also has links rather than files for the Adobe Acrobat Reader installer and the Fact Sheet mentioned below.


On October 17, 1989, at 5:04:15 p.m. (P.d.t.), a magnitude 6.9 (moment magnitude; surface-wave magnitude, 7.1) earthquake severely shook the San Francisco and Monterey Bay regions. The epicenter was located at 37.04° N. latitude, 121.88° W. longitude near Loma Prieta peak in the Santa Cruz Mountains, approximately 14 km (9 mi) northeast of Santa Cruz and 96 km (60 mi) south-southeast of San Francisco. The earthquake occurred when the crustal rocks comprising the Pacific and North American Plates abruptly slipped as much as 2 meters (7 ft) along their common boundary-the San Andreas fault system. The rupture initiated at a depth of 18 km (11 mi) and extended 35 km (22 mi) along the fault, but it did not break the surface of the Earth .

About this Loma Prieta earthquake publication

This publication contains 103 digitized color 35-mm images from Open-File Report 90-547 (Nakata and others, 1990). Our photographic coverage reflects the time and resources available immediately after the event and is not intended to portray the full extent of earthquake damage. This publication provides images for use by the interested public, multimedia producers, desktop publishers, and the high-end printing industry. The digital images are stored in the "photocd" folder and can be read across Macintosh, Windows, DOS, OS/2, SGI, and UNIX platforms which have applications that can read Kodak's Photo-CD (YCC) file format. Up-to-date information about Photo CD is on the World Wide Web at http://www.kodak.com/go/photocd. At the time of this publication, Kodak's policy on the distribution of color-management files is still unresolved, and so none is included in this publication. However, using the Universal Ektachrome or Universal Kodachrome transforms found in your software will provide excellent color.

Feel free to use any of these images but please cite the photographer and the U.S. Geological Survey.

View photographs on the screen in GIF and JPEG format

Thumbnail image
Index map of photographic sites (48 KB)

The preview thumbnail and screen-resolution images listed above are in GIF and JPEG formats, respectively, but undergo resolution loss due to downsizing, compression and (or) color-palate reduction relative to the original Photo CD images provided below.

CLICK HERE to browse the thumbnails (GIFs at about 192 x 128 pixels; /thumbs folder).

CLICK HERE to browse the screen-resolution images (JPEGs at about 768 x 512 pixels; /screens folder).

CLICK HERE to browse the print-resolution images (TIFs at about 2000 x 3000 pixels; /tif folder). This folder was created in 2008 and contains .tif files as we received requests for them in this large, uncompressed, but common file format. The PCD files linked below are the same print-quality images.

Acrobat PDF version of photographs

Because there are no freeware applications that will view or print PCD files, we have provided an Adobe Acrobat (PDF) version of this report. Using Adobe Acrobat Reader (available using the button, below), you can print high-resolution copies of each photograph with its caption.

Get Adobe Reader

CLICK HERE to view a PDF version of the photographs (dd-29.pdf; 40 MB). The images in this file are 600 dpi, sufficient resolution for making high-quality copies on most desktop printers.

CLICK HERE to view a slideshow (slideshow.pdf; 36 MB). The images in this file are 1024 x 768 pixels. To get the slideshow to advance automatically in your copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader, set File, Preferences, Full Screen, to Advance Every 2 Seconds.

Photo CD (PCD) version of photographs

For users who have commercial software that can read and print PCD files, the photographs are provided in this publication in that format in the "photocd" folder. In the hierarchy of file formats, Photo CD (YCC) resides above BMP, EPS, GIF, JPEG, MOV, PCX, PICT, PSD, TIF, TIFF, etc., enabling end users to go from YCC to other formats, but not in the other direction without losing image quality. Each 24-bit color image is stored as five resolutions:

1. Thumbnail—[192 x 128 pixels] Contact-sheet-size images for quick previewing of the entire collection.

2. FPO "For Placement Only"—[384 x 256 pixels] A proxy for high-resolution images to determine placement in page-layout programs.

3. Screen Resolution—[786 x 512 pixels] Ideal for computer viewing and multimedia projects.

4. HDTV High-Definition Television—[1536 x 1024 pixels] Sufficient resolution for high definition TV, newspapers, and high-quality half-page layouts.

5. High Resolution—[3072 x 2048 pixels] Provides the printing industry with resolution sufficient for high-quality full-page layouts at 300 dpi/150 lpi and 24-bit color.

CLICK HERE to browse the PCD image collection (PCDs at 3072 x 2048 pixels; /photocd folder).

Other sources of information about the Loma Prieta earthquake

Library shelf image
CLICK HERE for references
and links for further reading.

Fact Sheet, "Progress Toward a Safer Future Since the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake"

CLICK HERE to view a Fact Sheet about the 10 years since the earthquake (https://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/1999/fs151-99/)

View the Readme file

CLICK HERE to view the Readme file (1_README.TXT) for the CD—ROM verson of this publication in ASCII format.

View the caption file

CLICK HERE to view the captions file (captions.txt) for this publication in ASCII format.

View the version history

CLICK HERE to view the version-history file (version_history.txt) for this publication in ASCII format.


We thank our colleagues: Richard Pike, for his thorough scrutiny of the entire manuscript; Robert Mark, for reviewing the computer section; Edward Helley, who originally reviewed Open-File Report 90-547; Evelyn (Newman) Billo, David Traudt, Sue Mayfield, Sara Boore, George Havach, Peter Stauffer, and Bob Page for facilitating authoring of this report; Todd Fitzgibbon, for a short course in HTML; and Jack Hillhouse, for supporting the project. We especially thank Alpha CD Imaging of Menlo Park, Calif. for their technical assistance.

Disclaimer: Any use of trade, product, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

To contact the senior author, email John Nakata (jnakata@sightandsound.com), Sight & Sound Productions

Email technical-support comments to Mike Diggles (mdiggles@usgs.gov).

This report is also available on CD-ROM from:

USGS Information Services, Box 25286,
Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225
telephone: 888 ASK-USGS; e-mail: infoservices@usgs.gov


ISBN 0-607-86640-3

The URL of this page is https://pubs.usgs.gov/dds/dds-29

Date created: December, 1995
Last modified: July 2, 2009