Archives for June 2014

GEER-EERI-ATC Report on February 2014 Cephalonia, Greece Earthquakes

Two major earthquakes with Mw = 6.0 and Mw = 6.1 hit the Cephalonia Island of Greece on January 26th and February 3rd of 2014, respectively. The reconnaissance mission was unique in two ways: First, it brought together the local, highly qualified earthquake engineering community, with a U.S. collaborative team of the Geotechnical Extreme Events Reconnaissance (GEER) Association, EERI, and the Applied Technology Council (ATC) to form a multidisciplinary 70-person team. Second, the resiliency of the building stock, geostructures, and communities that were subjected to one of the highest sequences of ground motions ever recorded in Europe provided the opportunity to focus on collecting data on good and bad performance marks a new era of reconnaissance.

earthquake damaged waterfront in Cephalonia, Greece

The reconnaissance team, coordinated by Sissy Nikolaou (M.EERI, 2004), worked with representatives from Greek universities and local EERI members to investigate and document observations. Team member Ramon Gilsanz (M. EERI, 2011), a structural engineer with expertise in concrete construction and non-structural damage, represented both EERI and ATC and worked directly with Greek structural engineers to document structural damage.

The reconnaissance report (Version 1) is available at external link icon with observations on: (i) seismological and recorded motions; (ii) geotechnical aspects; (iii) rigid blocks behavior; (iv) structural response; (v) infrastructure lifelines; (vi) nonstructural components response; and (v) economical and societal aspects.

Craig Elliott Taylor (1945-2014)

It is with deep regret that we report the passing of long-time EERI member Craig E. Taylor (M. EERI, 1982). Craig was a friend and colleague to many of us and his passing leaves a chasm that can never be filled. As one of his close colleagues so appropriately stated, “Craig had a magical combination of a brilliant mind and an intuitive sense that made him come up with incredibly novel ideas.” Those of us who had the privilege of working with Craig will certainly miss his provocative nature, his extraordinary wit, and that great wry sense of humor.

Craig Elliott Taylor (1945-2014)Craig received a B.S. in philosophy from the University of Utah and an A.M. and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois in philosophy (logical theory). Craig worked for several consulting companies, including the J.H. Wiggins Company, Dames & Moore (now URS Corp.), EQE (now ABS Consulting Group), before starting his own company Natural Hazards Management, Inc. Recently, he was a Managing Partner at the Baseline Management Co. and a Research Affiliate of ImageCat, Inc. He has also had a distinguished academic career having served as an Adjunct Research Professor at the University of Southern California and a visiting professor at Tongji University in Shanghai City, China.

Craig began his career in 1978 with the Division of Comprehensive Emergency Management for the State of Utah as an Earthquake Safety Specialist/Research Consultant. In this position, Craig assembled a series of reports that outlined in detail innovative seismic risk assessment procedures for virtually every major lifeline system in Utah. These procedures resulted in recommendations for risk reduction that ultimately served as a key element of Utah’s Seismic Safety Program.

While at Dames & Moore, Craig was project manager on a Federal Emergency Management Agency study where he assessed the feasibility of incorporating risk reduction measures into a federal earthquake insurance program, should one be developed. This effort resulted in FEMA-200 and FEMA 201, as well as legislation drafted by Congress. Later on, Craig was instrumental in a study mandated by Congress to demonstrate the efficacy of FEMA-sponsored mitigation efforts in reducing future losses from natural hazards. This landmark study demonstrated that on average, a dollar spent by FEMA on hazard mitigation saves the nation about $4 through reduction of future losses. Craig was a co-recipient of an Applied Technology Council Award for Excellence for this work.

Craig was also deeply involved with improving catastrophe risk modeling for the insurance industry. Serving as Research Director for Baseline Management Co., Craig helped carve out a new direction in CAT modeling, one which strived for more comprehensive simulation of risk and uncertainty. This recent work built on earlier seminal work performed by Craig while at Dames & Moore in the early 1990’s that introduced the notion of incremental real-time risk assessment and risk-based pricing in underwriting. Most recently, he developed a series of methods and indices known collectively as “Robust Simulation” to characterize uncertainty in CAT modeling estimates in a manner appropriate for identifying extreme risks.

In addition, Craig has left a huge legacy in promoting new methods and ideas in multi-hazard, disaster risk management. Working in various capacities, Craig promulgated the notion “systems-based” solutions to complex problems and often shared these ideas with others in his extensive professional society work. Craig was a founding member of the ASCE Council on Disaster Risk Management (CDRM). He chaired CDRM’s executive committee from 2005 to 2007, and served on its awards committee and advisory board. He was a long time editor for CDRM’s Natural Hazards Review journal as well as editor and author of several CDRM monographs and papers. During his tenure at CDRM, he inspired countless colleagues in topics ranging from risk and vulnerability, risk-informed decision making, and advances in information technology for analyses and risk communication. At the time of his passing, Craig was co-organizing a mini-symposium to facilitate an international exchange on policy implications relating to natural hazard risks. Craig was also actively involved with the ASCE Technical Council on Lifeline Earthquake Engineering (TCLEE) having been awarded the 2006 TCLEE Lifetime Contribution Award.

Craig is survived by his wife, Gayle, four grown children and four grandchildren.

A Celebration of Life service will be held on July 12, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. at the South Coast Botanic Garden on the Palos Verdes Peninsula where friends, colleagues and family can share memories of Craig with others. For more information, you can contact either Ron Eguchi ( or Charlie Huyck (

10NCEE Updates: Online Program, SDC, and NEES Quake Summit

The Tenth U.S. National Conference on Earthquake Engineering (10NCEE) in Anchorage, Alaska, July 21–25, 2014, will be held on the 50th Anniversary of the Great Alaska earthquake and tsunami. The theme for the conference is “Frontiers of Earthquake Engineering.” More than 1,000 participants from over 41 countries have registered for 10NCEE, including 250 students and 50 exhibitors. Information about Travel and Lodging, Airline Discounts, Pre-Conference Events, and Thursday Evening at the Alaska Native Heritage Center is available at

10NCEE Online Program
10NCEE website The full program for 10NCEE, including room assignments, is available online at The program includes over 1,000 presentations in 130 sessions, including 27 invited presentations by distinguished speakers in the plenary and theme sessions. The online program is completely searchable and can be used to search for presentations by colleagues or to find presentations by keyword.

Questions or concerns about the online program should be sent to

EERI Seismic Design Competition Schedule
EERI Student Leadership Council (logo)Over 30 teams from universities across the U.S. and around the world will be competing in the 2014 EERI undergraduate Student Seismic Design Competition (SDC), organized by the EERI Student Leadership Council (SLC). The competition schedule for the SDC is available online at

Wednesday is the SDC presentation day when each team presents their model to a panel and is judged on the structural system concept, the analysis method, the clarity and organization of the presentation, and their communication skills. Thursday is dedicated to shake table testing of the complex tall building models made from balsa wood and weighing no more than 7 pounds.

Learn more about the competition at

NEES Quake Summit Program
NEES logo The schedule for the 2014 NEES Quake Summit Activities is available online external link icon. Pre-Conference Workshops and Meetings will be held on Sunday for NEES Governance Board and on Monday for NEES committee meetings. Don’t miss the Plenary Session on the “Global Impact of NEES” and the NEES Concurrent Theme Sessions on Thursday morning followed by the NEES Project Showcase at the NEES Luncheon.

For more information about NEES, visit: external link icon.

EERI Outstanding Student Paper Awardees: Brett Maurer and Mark Tilashalski

The purpose of the EERI Outstanding Student Papers Competition is to promote active involvement of students in earthquake engineering and the earthquake hazards community. Graduate and undergraduate students submitted papers into the competition. The papers are original work and are judged based on their contribution to the field and their overall quality.

This year the committee had a very difficult task, because there were so many excellent papers submitted to the student paper competition. The committee judged each paper based on technical merit, clarity of expression, and relevance for the earthquake engineering community. The process works quite well, and the Student Activities Committee came to a unanimous decision for both the undergraduate and graduate paper competitions in the deliberations following synthesis of the individual judge’s rankings.

The following students were awarded 2013 EERI Outstanding Graduate and Undergraduate Papers:

Brett Maurer, Virginia Tech “Moving Towards An Improved Index for Assessing Liquefaction Hazard: Lessons from Historical Data”
Brett Maurer, Virginia Tech

Brett Maurer (M. EERI, 2014) is a Ph.D. student in the department of civil engineering at Virginia Tech (VT) working in the geotechnical engineering program. His research advisor at VT is Professor Russell Green (M. EERI, 1983), and he works closely with Misko Cubrinovski and Brendon Bradley (M. EERI, 2012) of the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Brett’s research focuses on improving liquefaction hazard models, which are widely used for hazard mapping and in the engineering design of infrastructure.

Paper Abstract: While Liquefaction Potential Index (LPI) has been used to assess liquefaction hazards worldwide, recent evaluations of LPI have found its performance to be inconsistent, ranging from largely erroneous, to generally efficacious but inaccurate for a portion of sites. Given the preeminent role of LPI in practice, efforts to improve its efficacy are thus warranted. In 1985, Ishihara considered the influence of the non-liquefied surface layer on the manifestation of liquefaction, and proposed an empirical approach to predict liquefaction surface effects. Accordingly, this study investigates what insights the boundary curves proposed by Ishihara may provide for improving the existing LPI framework. From this historical data, a novel Ishihara-inspired index, LPIISH, is derived. Its performance is evaluated using select liquefaction case histories and is compared to that of the existing LPI framework commonly used in practice. For the selected case studies, LPIISH was found to be consonant with observed surface effects and showed improvement over LPI in mitigating false-positive predictions. This study highlights deficiencies with existing liquefaction hazard assessment and presents an alternative index for discussion. Ultimately, the influence of non-liquefiable layers on surficial manifestation is complex, and further research is needed to fully elucidate and quantify these effects.

Mark Tilashalski, Virginia Tech “Study of Site Specific Seismic Amplification in the National Capital Region”
Mark Tilashalski, Virginia Tech

Mark Tilashalski is pursuing his master’s degree in civil engineering at Virginia Tech and researching the effects of site amplification on the East Coast. Mark wrote this paper as a culmination of the research that he performed as an undergraduate student.

Paper Abstract: The current NEHRP procedures for simplified seismic design use the average shear wave velocity in the top 30 meters of a profile (Vs30) as a basis for design. This procedure was developed empirically from ground motions recorded in the Western United States (WUS). The simplified design method appears to be inadequate for characterizing site amplification in locations where the subsurface profile includes a sharp increase in shear wave velocity at shallow depths. This is a common feature for sites in the Central and Eastern United States (CEUS). Short soil stacks sitting atop hard rock are especially prevalent along the Atlantic Fall Line in the CEUS. This study analyzes site amplification characteristics for six sites from the National Capital Region (NCR) which is situated along the Fall Line. Ground surface motions are computed at each site using 14 different hazard consistent bedrock motions. The results indicate that short-period amplification factors (Fa) for the NCR greatly exceed the values predicted by the current NEHRP guidelines.

To learn more about the EERI Outstanding Paper Award, visit the EERI website at

See the full list of 2014 EERI Award Recipients at

Earthquake Spectra Preprints

In late May and early June, several preprint manuscripts were posted on the Earthquake Spectra website prior to their formal publication. The list of new preprint manuscripts, including authors, follows:

  • Earthquake Spectra“Simulation-based Hanging-Wall Effects” by Jennifer Donahue (M. EERI, 2009) and Norman Abrahamson (M. EERI, 1984)
  • “Comparison of NGA-West2 Directivity Models” by Paul Spudich, Badie Rowshandel (M. EERI, 1986), Shrey Shahi, Jack W. Baker (M. EERI, 2004) and Brian S.-J. Chiou
  • “North Torrey Pines Bridge Seismic Retrofit: Part II, Structural Analysis and Design” by Nathan S. Johnson (M. EERI, 2012), Mark L. Creveling and Keith J. Gazaway
  • “A framework for linking community-resilience goals to specific performance targets for the built environment” by Michael Mieler (M. EERI, 2010), Bozidar Stojadinovic (M. EERI, 1992), Robert Budnitz, Mary Comerio (M. EERI, 1988), and Stephen Mahin (M. EERI, 1975)
  • “Classification of Mainshocks and Aftershocks in NGA-West2 Database” by Kathryn Wooddell and Norman Abrahamson (M. EERI, 1984)
  • “Framework for Comprehensive Assessment of a City’s Natural Disaster Risk” by Susan A. Brink (M. EERI, 2010) and Rachel A. Davidson (M. EERI, 1995)
  • “Inelastic Higher-Mode Response in Reinforced Concrete Wall Structures” by Domenico Pennucci, Timothy J. Sullivan, and Gian Michele Calvi (M. EERI, 1990)
  • “Development of Collapse Indicators for Risk Assessment of Older-Type Reinforced Concrete Buildings” by Panagiotis H. Galanis (M. EERI, 2012) and Jack P. Moehle (M. EERI, 1981)

To read preprint manuscripts or browse the complete list of preprint manuscripts, visit the Earthquake Spectra website at external link icon.

In addition, the Spectra editors also posted a Special Collection of Preprints of the papers that will be published in the NGA-West2 special issue (forthcoming, August 2014) external link icon.