Recent and Future Developments in Earthquake Ground Motion Estimation


The estimation of earthquake ground motions that may occur at a given site during a future earthquake is a key aspect of seismic hazard assessment. In spite of great improvements in earthquake simulations, future shaking is still generally assessed using empirical ground motion prediction equations (GMPEs), which are also known as ground-motion models or attenuation relations. Many hundreds of GMPEs have been published since the first model in 1964.

In the past decade the derivation and use of GMPEs within seismic hazard assessments have undergone significant improvements but there remain challenges in ground-motion prediction. This presentation will provide an overview of recent developments which include: improvements in the estimation of the ground-motion variability and its components; a move away from simple regression-based curve fitting; attempts at using non-parametric techniques; the use of much more and better (e.g. in terms of site characterization) data; attempts at including additional independent parameters; a better appreciation of epistemic uncertainty; extensions of spectral models to shorter and longer structural periods using individually-processed records; a more careful consideration of how the models perform at small and large magnitudes; and making the models easier to use within seismic hazard assessments. Finally, the presenter will provide his viewpoint on possible future directions in ground-motion estimation.

About the speaker

Dr John Douglas is a Chancellor’s Fellow (Lecturer) at the University of Strathclyde (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering). Previously he was an engineering seismologist at BRGM (the French Geological Survey) from September 2004 to May 2015. During a sabbatical year (2009-2010) he was a Visiting Professor at the Earthquake Engineering Research Centre (University of Iceland).

Since his PhD at Imperial College (1998-2001), Dr Douglas has maintained a global compendium of ground-motion models, which has been available online since 2014 ( Much of his research is focused on improving these models. His research has led to the publication of over 70 articles in international peer-reviewed journals. In addition, he has been involved in a number of seismic hazard assessments for high-value infrastructure, such as nuclear power plants, as well as participating in working groups for the International Atomic Energy Agency (concerning a technical document on seismic hazard assessments for nuclear installations) and the European Committee for Standardization (concerning the update of Eurocode 8).

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Further information

This evening meeting is organised by SECED and chaired by Barnali Ghosh (Mott MacDonald). Non-members of the society are welcome to attend. Attendance at this meeting is free. Seats are allocated on a first come, first served basis. Tea and biscuits will be served from 5.30pm - 6pm. The presentation is scheduled to finish before 7.30 pm. For further information, please contact Greg James (tel. 020 7665 2229).

Event Details

Event Date 25/05/2016 6:00 pm
Institution of Civil Engineers
1 Great George Street Westminster, London SW1P 3AA United Kingdom
Institution of Civil Engineers

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