1969 Sardo (Ethiopia) Earthquake Archive

Dedicated to Father Pierre Gouin, S.J.

1969 3/29 09:15 UTC 11.94N 41.22E  12km           Ms=6.3, Sardo, Ethiopia

The death toll of this earthquake was about 40. 

This earthquake archive is dedicated to Father Pierre Gouin, S.J. for his unselfish devotion and service to seismology. Father Gouin was the founding director of the Geophysical  Observatory, University of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 1957 to 1978.  Under his supervision, the WWSSN station at Addis Ababa (ARE) was one of very best operated stations and produced excellently recorded seismograms, as readers can see in the Seismo Archives of earthquakes with scanned WWSSN seismograms.

Since we have very little information about Father Gouin and this earthquake, we urge anyone who knows Father Gouin, and scientists and engineers who have studied this earthquake to contribute materials for this archive.  Please contact William H. K. Lee at: lee@usgs.gov (office),
or whklee@ix.netcom.com (home).

Contributors: Charles R. Hutt, William H. K. Lee.

1. Seismograms of the 1969 Sardo (Ethiopia) Earthquake:     Selected WWSSN seismograms from this earthquake were scanned as part of the USGS/ICSU Scanning Project.

view directory of compressed tif images (gzip files)

2. Selected Information about the 1969 Sardo Earthquake Online: Father Pierre Gouin summarized the study of the Sardo, Ethiopia, earthquake in his book, “Earthquake History of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa”. Please click: Sardo Earthquake Summary.

3. References:
Gouin, P. (1979). “Earthquake History of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa”, International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada, 1979, 258 pp.

4. A Note about Father Pierre Gouin, S.J.
The following information about Father Pierre Gouin was excerpted from the National Report of Ethiopia prepared by Dr. Laike M. Asfaw and was published in the  “International Handbook of Earthquake and Engineering Seismology”, edited by W.H.K. Lee, H. Kanamori, P.C. Jennings, and C. Kisslinger, Part B, p. 1335-1336, Academic Press, San Diego, 2003.

Seismological observation started in Ethiopia in 1959 at the Geophysical Observatory, on the campus of University College of Addis Ababa (now Addis Ababa University). The first director of the Observatory was a Jesuit, Father Pierre Gouin. The Observatory was initially established for geomagnetic observation in 1957.  

The only major earthquake sequence ever to shake Addis Ababa in living memory occurred from June to September 1961 and was recorded by the seismographs at the Observatory. At the time the panic caused by the earthquakes was moderated by the information that was being issued continually by the Observatory in Addis Ababa. As a result of the central role played by the Geophysical Observatory in the earthquake disaster of 1961 seismological observation has been given considerable importance.  The extent of damage caused by the earthquake sequence of 1961 was assessed during a field trip to the region and the macroseismic information that accumulated since then formed an important data base on which estimates of regional earthquake intensity attenuation relation was based.

Initially Wood‑Anderson and Willmore seismometers were used with photographic recording. In 1963, with the establishment of a WWSSN station, AAE, more systematic study of local earthquakes was made while fulfilling the routine operation of the AAE. Routine interpretation of seismograms and determination of earthquake parameters for local and regional events led to the publication of several research papers and a book, “Earthquake History of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa”, by Gouin (1979).

This book contains a substantial number of analyses of seismograms from the AAE and macroseismic information from field assessment of damage. The first seismic zoning map of Ethiopia was published in 1976 in relation to the national effort to draft a code for earthquake resistant structures.