The St. Francis Dam (Fig. 1), a curved concrete gravity structure 209-feet high, located in the mountains about 35 miles north of downtown Los Angeles, failed catastrophically near midnight just before March 12, 1928. The failure released 36,180 acre-feet of water down San Francisquito Canyon on a turbulent 55-mile journey to the Pacifica Ocean near Ventura, killing 450 people. As the deadliest American civil engineering failure of the 20th century, the city of Los Angeles paid more than $7 million in restitution to the victims' families and affected landowners. The sudden failure of a new concrete dam constructed by a reputable public agency had enormous repercussions within the civil engineering profession, especially in California.
J. D. Rogers, "Lessons Learned from the St. Francis Dam Failure," Geo-Strata, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 14-17, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Mar 2006.
Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering
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