Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Babe Ruth and earthquake hazard maps

30.10.2015

Northwestern University researchers have turned to an unusual source -- Major League Baseball -- to help learn why maps used to predict shaking in future earthquakes often do poorly.

Earthquake hazard maps use assumptions about where, when, and how big future earthquakes will be to predict the level of shaking. The results are used in designing earthquake-resistant buildings.


Here is a comparison of Japanese national earthquake hazard map (top) to uniform and randomized versions. The map predicts the level of shaking, shown by colors from red (highest) to white (least) expected to be exceeded at 5% of the sites on the map in the next 50 years. Surprisingly, by the most commonly used measure, the uniform and randomized maps work better than the published maps.

Image courtesy of Seth Stein, Northwestern University.

However, as the study's lead author, earth science and statistics graduate student Edward Brooks, explains "sometimes the maps do well, and sometimes they do poorly. In particular, the shaking and thus damage in some recent large earthquakes was much larger than expected."

Part of the problem is that seismologists have not developed ways to describe how well these maps perform. As Seth Stein, William Deering Professor of Geological Sciences explains "we need the kind of information the weather service has, where they can tell you how much confidence to have in their forecasts."

The question is how to measure performance. Bruce Spencer, professor of statistics, explains that "it's like asking how good a baseball player Babe Ruth was. The answer depends on how one measures performance. In many seasons Ruth led the league in both home runs and in the number of times he struck out. By one measure he did very well, and by another, very poorly. In the same way, we are using several measures to describe how hazard maps perform."

Another problem is that the hazard maps try to forecast shaking over hundreds over years, because buildings have long lifetimes. As a result, it takes a long time to tell how well a map is working. To get around this, the team looked backwards in time, using records of earthquake shaking in Japan that go back 500 years.

They compared the shaking to the forecasts of the published hazard maps. They also compared the shaking to maps in which the expected shaking was the same everywhere in Japan, and maps in which the expected shaking at places was assigned at random from the published maps.

The results were surprising. In Brook's words "it turns out that by the most commonly used measure using the uniform and randomized maps work better than the published maps. By another measure, the published maps work better."

The message, in Stein's view, is that seismologists need to know a lot more about how these maps work. "Some of the problem is likely to be that how earthquakes occur in space and time is more complicated that the maps assume. Until we get a better handle on this, people using earthquake hazard maps should recognize that they have large uncertainties. Brightly colored maps look good, but the earth doesn't have to obey them and sometimes won't."

###

This research will be presented at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America in Baltimore, MD, as part of the Bridging Two Continents joint "meeting-within-a meeting" with the Geological Society of China.

CONTACTS:

Edward Brooks, eddie@earth.northwestern.edu, 215-630-5436
Seth Stein, s-stein@northwestern.edu, 847-308-3806

WHAT:

Session 6
Active Intracontinental Tectonics in Asia and North America and the Associated Geohazards
session link: https://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2015AM/webprogram/Session38003.html

Paper 6-12, Using Historical Intensity Data To Assess Long-Term Performance of Earthquake Hazard Maps
Abstract link: https://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2015AM/webprogram/Paper262579.html

WHERE & WHEN:

Sunday, 1 November 2015: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM
Room 349/350 (Baltimore Convention Center)
Presentation Time: 11:20 AM

The Geological Society of America, founded in 1888, serves more than 27,000 members from academia, government, and industry in more than 100 countries. Through its meetings, publications, and programs, GSA enhances the professional growth of its members and promotes the geosciences in the service of humankind. GSA encourages cooperative research among earth, life, planetary, and social scientists, fosters public dialogue on geoscience issues, and supports all levels of earth science education.

Figure caption: Comparison of Japanese national earthquake hazard map (top) to uniform and randomized versions. The map predicts the level of shaking, shown by colors from red (highest) to white (least) expected to be exceeded at 5% of the sites on the map in the next 50 years. Surprisingly, by the most commonly used measure, the uniform and randomized maps work better than the published maps. Image courtesy of Seth Stein, Northwestern University.

Media Contact

Christa Stratton
cstratton@geosociety.org
303-357-1093

 @geosociety

http://www.geosociety.org 

Christa Stratton | EurekAlert!

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Predicting eruptions using satellites and math
28.06.2017 | Frontiers

nachricht NASA sees quick development of Hurricane Dora
27.06.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supersensitive through quantum entanglement

28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy under real ambient pressure conditions

28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Mice provide insight into genetics of autism spectrum disorders

28.06.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>