The September 1985 Mexico earthquakes

Final report of the New Zealand reconnaissance team

  • G. Butcher Morrison, Cooper & Partners, Wellington, New Zealand
  • D. Hopkins KRTA Ltd, Wellington, New Zealand
  • R. Jury Beca Carter Hollings & Ferner Ltd., Wellington, New Zealand
  • W. Massey KRTA Ltd, Wellington, New Zealand
  • G. McKay MWD, Wellington, New Zealand
  • G. McVerry DSIR Physics and Engineering Laboratory, Lower Hutt, New Zealand


This report on the September 1985 earthquakes in Mexico describes the earthquakes themselves, their effects and the resulting damage in considerably more detail than did the preliminary report of the reconnaissance team.


Zeevaert L., "Foundation Engineering for Difficult Subsoil Conditions", Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1973.

Marsal R.J. and Mayari M, "The Subsoil of Mexico City", UNAM, School of Engineering, 1959.

Marsal, R.J., "Lacustrine Clays of the Valley of Mexico", Institute of Engineering, National Autonomous University of Mexico, July 1975.

Rosenblueth E, "Seismic Design Requirements in a Mexican 1976 Code", Earthquake Engineering and Structural Dynamics Vol 7, No. 1, pp 49-61, 1979. DOI:

Singh, S.K., Astiz, L. and Havskov, J. "Seismic Gaps and Recurrence Periods of Large Earthquakes along the Mexican Subduction Zone: A Re-examination", Bull. Seism. Soc. Am 71, 827-843, June 1981.

Eissler H, Astiz L, and Kanameri H, "Tectonic Setting and Source Parameters of the September 19, 1985 Michoacon Mexico Earthquake", Geophysical Research Letters, Vol 13, No. 6, pp 569-72, June 1986. DOI:

Havskov J., Singh S.K., Nava, E., Dominquez T., and Rodriguez M.," Playa Azul, Michoacan, Mexico, Earthquake of 25 October 1981 (Ms = 7.3)", Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, Vol 73, No. 2, pp 449-57, April 1983.

Singh S.K., Yamamoto J., Havskov J., Guzman M., Novelo D, and Castro R., "Seismic Gap of Michoacan, Mexico" Geographical Research letters, Vol 7, No. 1, pp 69-72, January 1980. DOI:

Anderson, J.G. et al, "Preliminary Presentation of Accelerogram Data from the Guerrero Strong Motion Accelerograph Array". Michoacan-Guerrero, Mexico Earthquakes of 19 and 21 September 1985. Preliminary Report GAA-1A, University of California, San Diego and Universidad Nacional Antonoma de Mexico (UNAM) October 10, 1985.

Iwan W.D., (ed, Proceedings of the Internaional Workshop on strong Motion Earthquake Instrument Arrays, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, 1978.

Quaas, R. et al, " The Michoacan - Guerrero, Mexico Earthquakes of September 1985: Preliminary Description of the Strong-Motion Accelerographic Array", Preliminary Report GAA-1B, UCSD and UNAM, October 11, 1985.

Prince, J. et al, "Preliminary Response Spectra from Accelerograms Recorded at Close Range, by the Guerrero Accelerograph Array for the September 1985 Events". Preliminary Report GAS-1C, UCSD and UNAM, October 12, 1985.

Mena, S.F. et al, "Analisis del Acelerograma 'Zacatuala' del Sismo del 19 de Septiembre de 1985", Informe IPA-10E, UNAM, October 1985.

Quass R. et al," Registros Del┬ĚSismo De Septiembre de 1985 Ventennidos en la Estagon De El Paraiso, Guerrero y Caubracion Del Acelogratro", Reporte Preliminar GAA-ID, UNAM and UCSD, March 1986.

Prince, J. et al, "Accelerogramas en Ciudad Universitaria del Sismo del 19 de Septiembre de 1985", Informe IPS- 10A, UNAM, September 20, 1985.

Prince J. et al, "Espectros De Las Componentes Horizontalez Registrados Por los Acelerografos Digitales De Mexico OF Sismo Del 19 De Septembre De 1985. Acelerogramas En. Viveros Yen Tacubaya" Informe IPS-10D, UNAM, October 1 1985.

Mena, E. et al, "Accelerograma en El Centro SCOP de la Secretaria de Comunicaciones y Transportes, Sismo del 19 de Septiembre de 1985", Informe IPS-10B, UNAM, September 21, 1985.

Faccioli F., and Resendiz D, "Soil Dynamics: Behaviour Including Liquefaction" in Lomnitz C and Rosenblueth F (Eds), Seismic Risk and Engineering Decisions, Elsevier Amsterdam 1976. DOI:

Quass, R. et al, "Los Dos Acelero- gramas del Sismo de Septiembre 19 de 1985, obtenidos en La Central de Abastos en Mexico D.F.", Informe IPS- 10C, UNAM, September 23, 1985.

UNAM Seismology Group "The September 1985 Michoacan Earthquake: Aftershock Distribution and History of Rupture" Geophysical Research Letters Vol 13, No. 6 pp 573 - 576. DOI:

Rosenblueth, E., "Aseismic Design in Mexico" Proc. World Conference on Earthquake Engineering, Berkeley, 1956.

"Earthquake Resistant Regulations - A world list 1960", compiled by the Organising Committee Second World Conference on Earthquake Engineering.

"Earthquake Resistant Regulations - A World List 1966", compiled by the International Association for Earthquake Engineering.

Rosenblueth, E., "Aseismic Provisions for the Federal District Mexico" Proc. 2nd World Conference on Earthquake Engineering Vol. III, 1960.

"Earthquake Resistant Regulations - A world list 1980", compiled by the International Association for Earthquake Engineering.

"Building Code Requirements for Reinforced Concrete", ACI 318, American Concrete Institute.

Bazan, E., Meli R., "Manual De Diseno Sismico de Edificios" Series Del Institute de Ingenieria D-18 Sept. 1983.

Moran, D.J., "Geologia de la Republica Mexicana", Instituto Nacional de Estadistica Geografia e Informatica, Unam, Mexico, 1984.

Enrique del Valle, "Some lessons from the March 14, 1979 Earthquake in Mexico City", 7th World Conference on Earthquake Engineering, Instanbul, Turkey, 1980.

"Recommended Practice for Design and Construction of Concrete Bins, Silos and Bunkers for Storing Granular Materials", ACI 313, American Concrete Institute.

How to Cite
Butcher, G., Hopkins, D., Jury, R., Massey, W., McKay, G., & McVerry, G. (1988). The September 1985 Mexico earthquakes. Bulletin of the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering, 21(1), 3-96.

Most read articles by the same author(s)