Seismic hazard evaluation

Paul Somerville*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


This paper reviews concepts and trends in seismic hazard characterization that have emerged in the past decade, and identifies trends and concepts that are anticipated during the coming decade. New methods have been developed for characterizing potential earthquake sources that use geological and geodetic data in conjunction with historical seismicity data. Scaling relationships among earthquake source parameters have been developed to provide a more detailed representation of the earthquake source for ground motion prediction. Improved empirical ground motion models have been derived from a strong motion data set that has grown markedly over the past decade. However, these empirical models have a large degree of uncertainty because the magnitude - distance - soil category parameterization of these models often oversimplifies reality. This reflects the fact that other conditions that are known to have an important influence on strong ground motions, such as near-fault rupture directivity effects, crustal waveguide effects, and basin response effects, are not treated as parameters of these simple models. Numerical ground motion models based on seismological theory that include these additional effects have been developed and extensively validated against recorded ground motions, and used to estimate the ground motions of past earthquakes and predict the ground motions of future scenario earthquakes. The probabilistic approach to characterizing the ground motion that a given site will experience in the future is very compatible with current trends in earthquake engineering and the development of building codes. Performance based design requires a more comprehensive representation of ground motions than has conventionally been used. Ground motions estimates are needed at multiple annual probability levels, and may need to be specified not only by response spectra but also by suites of strong motion time histories for input into time-domain non-linear analyses of structures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-386
Number of pages16
JournalBulletin of the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2000
Externally publishedYes


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