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New Tools for Predicting and Mitigating Earthquake Impacts Based on Ground Motion Data

by Charles Kircher

Kircher, Charles (1998). New Tools for Predicting and Mitigating Earthquake Impacts Based on Ground Motion Data. SMIP98 Seminar on Utilization of Strong-Motion Data, p. 119 - 134.

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This paper describes the key features and components of the regional earthquake loss estimation methodology developed by the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) with funding provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The FEMA/NIBS earthquake loss estimation methodology is intended primarily to assist emergency response planning and mitigation efforts of state, regional and local community governments. The FEMA/NIBS methodology incorporates state-of-the-art approaches for characterizing earthquake hazards, including ground shaking, liquefaction and land-sliding; estimating damage and losses to buildings and lifelines, estimating casualties, shelter needs and economic losses.

Of particular importance is the use of quantitative measures of ground shaking hazard (i.e., response spectra) in the estimation of building damage. Damage and loss are based on ground motion data, rather than on Modified Mercalli Intensity (MMI) commonly used by other earthquake loss estimation methods. While the FEMA/NIBS methodology was developed primarily for pre-earthquake planning purposes, the use of response spectra to predict damage makes the technology potentially valuable as a post-earthquake processor of near-real-time data from strong-motion networks such as the TriNet system. It is suggested that the FEMANIBS methodology be interfaced with strong-motion instrumentation networks to better assist post earthquake response and recovery efforts. It is also suggested that predictions of earthquake damage and loss be used to assist locating strong-motion instruments in areas where buildings and other infrastructure are most at risk.