Workshop on Seismicity and Earthquake Engineering in the Extended Mediterranan Region

St. Julian’s, Malta
24 – 27 April 2006

The workshop on Seismicity and Earthquake Engineering in the Extended Mediterranean Region was the 25th meeting of the RELEMR programme (Reduction of Earthquake Losses in the Extended Mediterranean Region). The RELEMR programme was launched in 1993 by UNESCO and the US Geological Survey (USGS) with the purpose of assessing, evaluating and reducing expected earthquake losses in the targeted region, which includes all North African countries from Morocco through Egypt, and Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East countries up to Iran. Countries from the western Mediterranean region have also participated in the past. The European-Mediterranean Seismological Center (EMSC) has coordinated the exchange of data among EMR countries and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and Observatories and Research Facilities of European Seismology (ORFEUS) have also been cooperating in the program. RELEMR aims to facilitate the process of earthquake loss reduction in its participant countries by helping to establish theoretical and practical procedures, and transfer of knowledge and skill from more experienced institutions. Future losses from earthquakes in the Extended Mediterranean Region could be substantially reduced through the integrated implementation of:

The Malta workshop was held at the Hotel Le Meridien, St.Julian’s, where the banquet hall was converted to a computer laboratory for 4 days. The workshop, which was inaugurated by the University Rector, Prof Roger Ellul Micallef, was attended by participants from 20 countries, including 4 participants from Malta. Most participants come from national seismological/earthquake engineering research institutes and Universities. The workshop was divided into two main parts, each of which involved intensive training sessions. The first 2-day session was conducted by Dr. David Boore from the USGS, and consisted of hands-on experience with the software packages SMSIM and ProShake, which are programs that simulate ground motions at a spectrum of frequencies, and analyse the seismic ground response of a layered medium, as a result of a hypothetical earthquake of given magnitude and location. Such analysis is particularly useful to civil engineers, especially when direct information from strong-motion events is not available.

The next 2 days were equally intensive, and were conducted by Dr. Douglas Bausch from the USGS, who led the participants through a well-prepared familiarization session with HAZUS software. HAZUS is a standardized national methodology for assessing losses from natural hazards, which has been developed for the Federal Emergancy Management Agency (FEMA) of the United States and can deal with earthquake hazard, flooding and hurricanes. HAZUS is implemented through PC-based Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and can calculate, map and display damage data for a specific community, and for a given hazard scenario, for example a given earthquake of specified magnitude and fault plane mechanism. During this workshop, an interesting application was the modelling of the effect of a repeat of the 1693 Catania earthquake on the Sicily/Malta region.

All software used in the workshop is available to RELEMR participants.

Another issue discussed during the workshop was the planned publication of a seismicity map of the region covered by the RELEMR programme, involving the contribution of all participants. Such a map, representing located earthquake epicenters going as far back in time as possible, will enable national authorities to make better assessments of seismic hazard to their territory, and improved risk estimations and preparedness procedures.

The workshop was fully sponsored by UNESCO/USGS and USAID/MERC.