Earthquake hazard mitigation:
New directions and opportunities
Richard M. Allen
University of California, Berkeley
In "Treatise on Geophysics", G. Schubert (ed.),
Vol 4 - Earthquake seismology, H. Kanamori (ed.), p607-648, Elsevier, 2007.
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Seismic hazard mitigation encompasses a suite of approaches to reduce the impact of earthquakes on our society. Since the development of earthquake seismology and earthquake engineering at the beginning of the 20th century the probability that any one person dies in an earthquake has been reduced by a factor of three. This is at least in part a testament to the contributions of the field. Yet, the number of earthquake fatalities continues to grow. The likelihood of being killed in an earthquake has tracked population growth in some regions, and the dollar costs of earthquakes are escalating everywhere. In this chapter we explore global seismic hazard, risk and effective mitigation strategies to reduce them. Earthquake prediction, while often seen as a solution by the general public, does not represent a practical mitigation tool. In the category of long-term mitigation techniques, earthquake resistant buildings have been most effective in the past. While design has largely been reactive to the successes and failures of the most recent earthquakes in the past, new simulation techniques for the earthquake process and the response of buildings now allow testing of future buildings in future earthquakes. Having successfully developed designs to prevent earthquake fatalities, the engineering community is now looking to reduce the economic impacts as well. Short-term mitigation involves rapid earthquake information systems. These systems have been developed over the last few decades to provide detailed information about earthquake shaking in the minutes following an event. Today, dense seismic networks with rapid telemetry and new approaches to hazard assessment are being integrated with the goal of supplying earthquake hazard information ever more rapidly, even before the ground shaking. Such warnings can be used to further reduce the impacts of earthquakes around the world.
© Richard M Allen