- © 2006 by the Seismological Society of America
The purpose of this paper is to highlight the outstanding studies George Emory Goodfellow (1855–1910) and José Guadalupe Aguilera Serrano (1857–1941) made of the devastating 3 May 1887 Mw 7.5 Sonora earthquake (Figure 1). Goodfellow's observational study, based on his fieldwork in 1887 and partly published in Science in 1887 and 1888 (Goodfellow, 1887a, 1887b, 1888), includes the first surface rupture map of an earthquake in North America and photographs of the rupture scarp by Camillus Sidney Fly (1849–1901). Aguilera's 1888 publication (in Spanish), which is based on his expedition to the epicentral region of this earthquake in the summer of 1887, includes the first geologic map of northeastern Sonora, a detailed surface rupture map, and the earliest isoseismal map, source parameters, and seismic velocities of an earthquake in North America. An abridged translated version of Aguilera's 1888 article was published without figures in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America (Aguilera, 1920), and his rupture map was reproduced by Richter (1958, p. 595, Figure 31-2). Nevertheless, Aguilera's and Goodfellow's studies are not widely known today, and they are not given credit for their pioneering achievements in reviews of the history of seismology (for example, Davison, 1927; Agnew, 2002) or earthquake geology (historical vignettes in Yeats et al., 1997). Here I review the major accomplishments in Goodfellow's and Aguilera's contributions and place them in a historical context.
The 3 May 1887 Sonora event is the largest historical earthquake of the southern Basin and Range tectonic-physiographic province and produced worldwide the longest recorded normal-fault surface rupture in historic time. The end-to-end length of the rupture trace (Figure 2) measures 101.8 km. The magnitude of the event is estimated as Mw = 7.5±0.3 based on this distance and the surface rupture length versus magnitude …