nine major areas of interest. Federal programs supporting earthquake research and engineering are summarized in Appendix A. Finally, a list of acronyms is given in Appendix B.



Some scientists prefer to follow Robert Mallet, who first employed (in 1862) the term “seismology” as a generic name for the study of earthquakes (e.g., B.A. Bolt, Seis. Res. Lett., 68, 714, 1997). However, modern usage has tended to restrict seismology to the study of waves and other motions of the Earth produced by earthquakes, explosions, and other large energy sources (see K. Aki and P.G. Richards, Quantitative Seismology: Theory and Methods, Vol. I, p. 1, W.H. Freeman, San Francisco, 1980). The committee has chosen the less elegant but more ecumenical title of “earthquake science” because it emphasizes the multidisciplinary nature of a field that has drawn practitioners from geology, geodesy, rock mechanics, and the physics of complex systems, in addition to seismologists.


Averaged over the twentieth century, the U.S. population comprised about 6 percent of the global population but suffered only 0.1 percent of the human toll in earthquake disasters. The reasons for the amount of earthquake damage and number of deaths observed in a particular country during a particular earthquake vary, but in general are due to (1) the location of the event relative to population centers, (2) inadequate seismic codes or poor enforcement of them, (3) poor design practice, (4) inferior construction materials, (5) lack of inspection, (6) large inventory of older structures and insufficient funds to retrofit them, and (7) corruption. For example, many of the buildings subjected to the 1999 Turkey earthquakes did not meet strength and detailing requirements in the applicable building codes. In addition, landslides, subsidence, and lateral spreading due to soil failure contributed to the heavy damage observed in the coastal area of the Bay of Izmit (1999 Kocaeli, Turkey, Earthquake Reconnaissance Report, Earthquake Spectra, 16, Suppl. A, December 2000). On the other hand, most buildings affected by the 2001 India earthquake did not comply with the seismic code provisions because the codes are not mandatory (Preliminary Observations on the Origin and Effects of the January 26, 2001, Bhuj (Gujarat, India) Earthquake, EERI Newsletter, 35, April 2001).


Federal Emergency Management Agency, HAZUS®99 Estimated Annualized Earthquake Losses for the United States, FEMA Report 366, Washington, D.C., 33 pp., February 2001.


National Research Council, Estimating Losses from Future Earthquakes, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 231 pp., 1989.


Risk Management Solutions, Inc., What if the 1906 Earthquake Strikes Again? A San Francisco Bay Scenario, Menlo Park, Calif., 81 pp., May 1995. Estimated losses are assumed to follow a beta distribution, with the range corresponding to the 50th and 90th percentiles (i.e., the probability that the actual losses will be less than the lower bound is 50 percent, and the probability that the losses will be greater than the upper bound is 10 percent). Direct economic losses do not include expenses for debris removal and emergency relief or indirect losses from firms that depend on earthquake-damaged businesses, lower tax revenues due to reduced business revenues, loss of jobs, or decreased valuations in national and world markets.


Risk Management Solutions, Inc., What if the 1923 Earthquake Strikes Again? A Five-Prefecture Tokyo Region Scenario, Menlo Park, Calif., 97 pp., November 1995. Estimates quoted in the text are in 1994 dollars. The report goes on to speculate: “This [direct] loss represents 44-70% of the gross domestic product of Japan for 1994. The region is a vital link in the world economy, and the ripple effects of its losses would be felt around the world…. To finance the enormous sum needed to begin reconstruction after the scenario earthquake,

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