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TitleBeating fear with hope: on sustaining earthquake preparedness
AuthorWang, KORCID logo; Rogers, G C
SourceSeismological Research Letters vol. 88, no. 1, 2017 p. 171-176,
Alt SeriesEarth Sciences Sector, Contribution Series 20160166
PublisherSeismological Society of America (SSA)
Mediapaper; on-line; digital
File formatpdf
Lat/Long WENS 13.0000 13.5000 42.5000 42.2500
Subjectsgeophysics; tectonics; earthquakes; earthquake studies; earthquake damage; earthquake magnitudes; earthquake mechanisms; earthquake risk; seismic risk; earthquake resistant design
ProgramPublic Safety Geoscience Western Canada Geohazards Project
Released2016 10 26
AbstractThe closure of the 'L'Aquila Trial' has prompted the scientific community to revisit the question of what lessons have been learned. An issue of concern is the rise of short-term forecasting in the aftermath of the earthquake that triggered the trial, such as by using patterns of small earthquakes to provide probabilistic warnings of occurrence of damaging events in the ensuing day or week. Because most damaging earthquakes are not preceded by diagnostic anomaly precursory patterns and the vast majority of observed anomalies such as swarms of small earthquakes are not followed by a damaging event, forecasting of this type is not likely to be useful for mitigating seismic risk. Instead, long-term earthquake preparedness should be the goal, and the most effective way of doing so is strengthening the built environment against earthquake shaking. Great progress has been made in this regard over the past few decades, and numerous lives were saved in a number of recent earthquakes owing to the implementation of earthquake-resistant design and construction practices. Long-term mitigation strategies face scientific, financial, and regulatory, and cultural challenges. The scientific community should lead the way to deal with these challenges.
Summary(Plain Language Summary, not published)
In dealing with earthquake hazard, two approaches are used. Long-term measures through assessing hazard and risk and strengthening the built environment is the approach we use in NRCan. Of concern is a new trend of global promotion of operational short-term forecasting of earthquakes as a measure of risk mitigation. In this article, we discuss from a historical perspective the operational feasibility of the two options. We emphasize that the short-term measures are driven mainly by a fear for building collapse, but the long-term measures are driven by a hope for continuing improvement in building safety.

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