Comparative Seismic Risk Studies for German Earthquake Regions on the Basis of the European Macroseismic Scale EMS-98

Authors: Schwarz, Jochen; Raschke, Mathias; Maiwald, Holger

Source: Natural Hazards, Volume 38, Numbers 1-2, May 2006 , pp. 259-282(24)

Publisher: Springer

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Within the framework of recent research projects, basic tools for GIS-based seismic risk assessment technologies were developed and applied to the building stock and regional particularities of German earthquake regions. Two study areas are investigated, being comparable by the level of seismic hazard and the hazard-consistent scenario events (related to mean return periods of 475, 2475 and 10000 years). Significant differences exist with respect to the number of inhabitants, the grade and extent of urbanisation, the quality and quantity of building inventory: the case study of Schmölln in Eastern Thuringia seems to be representative for the majority of smaller towns in Germany, the case study of Cologne (Köln) stands for larger cities. Due to the similarities of hazard and scenario intensities, the considerable differences do not only require proper decisions concerning the appropriate methods and acceptable efforts, they enable conclusions about future research strategies and needs for disaster reduction management. Not least important, results can sharpen the focus of public interest. Seismic risk maps are prepared for different scenario intensities recognising the scatter and uncertainties of site-dependent ground motion and also of the applied vulnerability functions. The paper illustrates the impact of model assumptions and the step-wise refinements of input variables like site conditions, building stock or vulnerability functions on the distribution of expected building damage within the study areas. Furthermore, and in contrast to common research strategies, results support the conclusion that in the case of stronger earthquakes the damage will be of higher concentration within smaller cities like Schmölln due to the site-amplification potential and/or the increased vulnerability of the building stock. The extent of damage will be pronounced by the large number of masonry buildings for which lower vulnerability classes have to be assigned. Due to the effect of deep sedimentary layers and the composition of building types, the urban centre of Cologne will be less affected by an earthquake of comparable intensity.

Keywords: case studies; damage probability assessment; loss estimation; macroseismic scale; risk scenarios; seismic risk; vulnerability of buildings

Document Type: Research Article


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Publication date: May 1, 2006

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