Technical Program

The two-day technical program on Wednesday, April 10 and Thursday, April 11 will feature five plenary sessions (including the EERI Awards Ceremony), 16 special sessions, 2 poster sessions, and a special programming track on the 2023 Kahramanmaraş Earthquakes organized in partnership with NEHRP.

Member-organized special sessions will focus on the following topics: Building Codes and Building Performance; Cascadia Subduction Zone; Climate, Multi-hazard Modeling, and Earthquake Resilience; Geotechnical Engineering; Lifelines; Public Policy; Socioeconomic Impacts and Vulnerable Populations; Structural Engineering; and Tsunami Hazards. The organizing committee is currently finalizing session selections and titles and descriptions will be posted here in December 2023.

Read on for abstracts of two of the plenary sessions – the 2024 EERI Distinguished Lecture and the 2024 Joyner Lecture.

2024 William B. Joyner Lecture

Why Seismic Hazard Modelling Has Become a Risky Business

Helen Crowley, Secretary-General, Global Earthquake Model (GEM) Foundation; Editor, Earthquake Spectra

Screenshot 2023 12 05 at 2.18.17 PMAbstract: The Joyner Lecture honours the distinguished career of William B. Joyner at the U.S. Geological Survey and his abiding commitment to continuing communication and education at the interface between research findings of earthquake science and the practical realities of earthquake engineering.

One such interface that has been the source of much debate in recent years relates to the use of probabilistic seismic hazard assessment (PSHA) models as the basis for seismic design and assessment. Since the publication of the landmark paper by Cornell in 1968, PSHA has become the standard approach for defining the seismic actions in design codes. Before then, following the Messina (Italy) earthquake in 1908, seismic zonation maps based on observed macroseismic intensity from past earthquakes were used to define where, and to what level, buildings should be designed to withstand the lateral forces from earthquakes. These zonation maps were often, and somewhat inevitably, updated after damaging earthquakes.

Despite the clear improvements that the use of a PSHA-based approach brought, criticism was frequently placed on the outputs of these models, such as when the ground motions from earthquakes were seen to exceed those underlying the design code, suggesting a widespread misunderstanding of the meaning of the latter. Since the 2000’s, there has been a move towards explicitly discussing the levels of risk that are being accepted by the code, together with the consequences expected under the design levels. This has led, in the United States, to the adoption of the so-called risk-targeted approach for defining the seismic actions, which aims at harmonising the probability of collapse of buildings across the region of interest. This methodology has not yet been widely adopted by design regulations in other parts of the world, though in Italy, for instance, a significant effort has been made to evaluate the underlying spatial variation of risk to buildings designed to the latest standards. Whilst a more explicit recognition of the level of risk associated with seismic design codes has been an important step forward in Italy, the latest update to the PSHA model, developed in 2019 by the Italian Geological Survey (INGV), has continued to receive criticism and has even been rejected as the basis for an update of seismic actions in the design code. In this lecture, the argument will be made that the onus should now be on structural engineers to demonstrate the impact of these changes in terms of the levels of risk to the building stock, and how resilience has been, and can continue to be, built into the code to accommodate such changes resulting from advances in earthquake science.

Distinguished Lecture

Geospatial Technology – Saving the World's Past, Present, and Future from Natural Hazards

Dr. Michael Olsen, Professor, School of Civil and Construction Engineering, Oregon State University; Technical Director, NSF Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure (NHERI) RAPID Facility; Director of the Cascadia Lifelines Program (CLiP)

Screenshot 2023 12 05 at 2.15.39 PMAbstract: The task of maintaining resilient infrastructure against the onslaught of natural hazards often feels elusive and unattainable. Recent advances in technology offer promising solutions and opportunities towards this goal; however, the effective adoption and utilization of those technologies operates at a much slower pace given the societal realities of budget limitations, workforce shortages, polarization of priorities, disillusionment from past failures, and resistance to change. In day to day operations, efforts by engineers, planners, and decision makers often are stymied due to a lack of accessible, trustworthy, and current information related to infrastructure conditions. These problems are exacerbated in emergency situations where infrastructure systems and people are pushed to extreme limits.

At the project scale, inadequate site investigations result in substantial delays and cost-overruns from unanticipated problems during construction as well as poor infrastructure performance due to ground failure during a seismic event. These challenges propagate to the network scale where entities managing lifelines are often forced to make decisions prioritizing mitigation efforts based on limited, simplistic, or outdated information, which significantly hampers response and recovery efforts during a disastrous situation. This presentation explores examples of how expanded and effective usage of geospatial technologies now can help us proactively “save” the world through detailed mapping of our critical lifeline infrastructure to improve 1) monitoring, modeling, and analysis efforts to more precisely identify vulnerable infrastructure, 2) planning for and understanding the potential impacts and damage extents associated with multiple hazards, 3) the conduct of post-disaster reconnaissance, damage assessments, and rebuilding efforts, and 4) digital preservation of infrastructure and other resources with significant cultural and historical importance that are unlikely to withstand major seismic forces lurking on the horizon. Ultimately, geospatial technology serves as the unifying glue to enable meaningful collaboration between science, engineering, and public policy necessary for a resilient society capable of effectively responding and adapting to natural hazards.