EERI Response to M6.4 Earthquake in Taiwan on February 6, 2016

Tainan, Taiwan. Reuters photo

Tainan, Taiwan. Reuters photo

On Saturday, February 6, 2016, a M6.4 earthquake struck southern Taiwan. The EERI community extends its sympathy to the victims as rescue and relief work continues.

EERI is currently monitoring the situation from media reports and notes from colleagues in the impacted region as part of its Learning from Earthquakes Program.

For current and timely information about the earthquake, including links to the USGS event page, World Housing reports, media reports, and information from colleagues in the region, EERI has created an EERI event page in the LFE archive. This page will be updated regularly as new information becomes available.

Any members with information about earthquake impacts or response should contact Heidi Tremayne, EERI Program Manager.


Learning from Earthquakes Program: 2015 in Review

EERI’s Learning from Earthquakes program had a year of significant activity, innovation, and planning.

Investigating the April 25 Gorkha Earthquake


In early June 2015, EERI sent a 13-member international Learning from Earthquakes (LFE) team to Nepal to conduct reconnaissance following the Mw7.8 Gorkha earthquake on April 25. Working in partnership with Nepal’s National Society for Earthquake Technology (NSET), and coordinating with nearly 30 other reconnaissance efforts, EERI’s multidisciplinary team examined ten topic areas from seismology and ground motion to building performance and community resilience. Briefing videos from team members may be found at the virtual clearinghouse website for the earthquake: The LFE team report will be published in early 2016 and EERI is currently seeking financial support for a special issue of Earthquake Spectra on the Nepal earthquake. Follow up investigations will also take place in 2016 by the Houser Fellows and a resilience reconnaissance team.

Activity from Afghanistan, Chile, and Napa quakes

EERI coordinated with members in regions impacted by the M7.5 Northeastern Afghanistan Earthquake on October 26, 2015 (, and the M8.3 Illapel Chile Earthquake on September 16, 2015 ( Members from the impacted regions of both earthquakes have submitted reports and observations. Additional member-submitted reports are expected in early 2016 and will be available in the LFE Earthquake Archive (

Collapsed barrel stacks leaning on interior column after Napa earthquake

With funding from FEMA, EERI staff members are post-processing and improving an archival data set from the 2014 South Napa Earthquake. ATC/FEMA Building and Nonstructural Components Performance data, Caltrans Bridge Assessment data, and SEAOC Earthquake Performance Evaluation Program data will be included in the final data set to be launched in March 2016, at the virtual clearinghouse website:

Improving and Expanding LFE

In early 2015, EERI hosted two Reconnaissance Training Workshops aimed at better preparing members to conduct reconnaissance and contribute their data after an earthquake in their area. The first workshop was hosted by the UCLA student chapter in January and the second workshop was hosted by the EERI Student Leadership Council during the 2015 Annual Meeting in Boston. Over 100 students and professionals participated in the workshops. Presentations from the workshops can be found at

Recent earthquakes led to the refinement and improvement of LFE Operations and Procedures. New volunteer positions of Clearinghouse Curators, Virtual Team Collaborators, and LFE Operational Specialists have been established to actively involve early career members in LFE reconnaissance activities. To make topical curation posts after earthquakes even more informative and timely, LFE has been working with EERI’s Younger Members Committee (YMC) to develop procedures that will allow YMC members to serve regular terms as curators ready to act quickly and glean valuable ephemeral information. More about these roles and procedures can be found at the LFE website:

A 12-person LFE subcommittee is in the early stages of developing a new program to involve experiential field-based learning in regions of past major earthquakes. This program will launch it’s first pilot study trip in 2017.

Identified LFE priorities activities for 2016 include the following:

1. Dramatically improving LFE websites and reconnaissance tools with financial support from EERI’s Initiatives and Development Committee. These improvements will make the website more user-friendly and informational while also better integrating reconnaissance data and virtual clearinghouses.

2. Securing baseline funding for LFE operations.

3. Identification of best practices in incorporating resilience reconnaissance over time into LFE procedures.

4. Responding to major earthquakes per the recently updated operations procedures.

The LFE Committee is chaired by Ken Elwood (M. EERI, 1994) until April 26, 2016, when Charlie Huyck (M. EERI, 2002) moves from Vice-Chair to the Chair role. Heidi Tremayne is the EERI staff lead for LFE, with support from Maggie Ortiz-Millan who manages LFE’s reconnaissance data collection and visualization activities.

Thomas O’Rourke to be Awarded Housner Medal at EERI Annual Meeting

Thomas D. O'Rourke

Thomas D. O’Rourke

Thomas D. O’Rourke (M. EERI, 1980), the Thomas R. Briggs Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Cornell University, will be presented with the George W. Housner Medal at the 2016 EERI Annual Meeting. The Housner Medal is awarded to recognize Institute members and others who have made extraordinary and lasting contributions to public earthquake safety through the development and application of earthquake hazard reduction practices and policies.

O’Rourke’s research has had a critical impact on lifeline earthquake engineering across the globe and has improved understanding of the response of geographically distributed systems—such as water supply and electric power networks—to earthquakes and other natural hazards. Involved in earthquake engineering for over 30 years, O’Rourke has been recognized with numerous awards, including the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Charles Martin Duke Lifeline Earthquake Engineering Award, the Stephen D. Bechtel Pipeline Engineering Award, the Japan Gas Association Best Paper Award, and the LeVal Lund Award for Practicing Lifeline Risk Reduction.

Dr. O’Rourke has held numerous service positions that have allowed him to greatly impact the field of earthquake risk reduction. In 1998, he was elected to the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) Board of Directors and served as President from 2003–2004. He testified before the United States House of Representatives Science Committee on engineering implications of the 1999 Turkey and Taiwan earthquakes, and in both 2003, and 2009, on the reauthorization of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP). He is currently using his expertise to help with the recovery planning for Christchurch, New Zealand, an area significantly impacted by the effects of the Canterbury Earthquake Sequence on its underground pipeline network.

Over his career, he has authored or co-authored over 360 publications on geotechnical, underground, earthquake engineering, and the impact of extreme events on civil infrastructure. His most notable awards, among many, are his election to the US National Academy of Engineering in 1993, his election as an International Fellow of the British Royal Academy of Engineering in 2014, his selection as the 2008 Rankine Lecturer, and his selection as the 2016 Karl Terzaghi Lecturer. He is a Distinguished Member of ASCE and an Honorary Member of EERI.

Dr. O’Rourke will received the George W. Housner Medal, EERI’s most prestigious honor, during the 68th EERI Annual Meeting in San Francisco, California, April 5–8, 2016. Registration and full program details are now available on the 2016 Annual Meeting website.

School Earthquake Safety Initiative (SESI) 2015 Year-end Update

EERI’s School Earthquake Safety Initiative (SESI) formally launched at the EERI Annual Meeting in 2015 after a year of careful planning. SESI is a global and collaborative network of diverse, expert, and passionate professionals who are committed to creating and sharing knowledge and tools that enable progressive, informed, decision-making around school earthquake safety. SESI’s goal is to leverage our extensive expertise and reputation to conduct regionally-appropriate actions that make a tangible and positive difference in communities around the world, by protecting the lives of all who inhabit school buildings. The initial focus of SESI is on school buildings in the U.S., but the network hopes to expand in future years to have impact internationally.

In its first year of existence, the SESI network of participants has exceeded 100 professionals from a diverse set of disciplinary backgrounds and regional areas—all dedicated to improving school earthquake safety.


An Executive Committee runs SESI with 13 active members, plus 2 ex-officio members. This committee has established an inspiring strategic plan and governing documents which are posted at the SESI website:

Several SESI subcommittees began activities in 2015:

With funding from the Coastal Zone Foundation, the 22-person Tsunami Mitigation of Schools subcommittee has developed a list of schools in CA, OR, WA, HI, AK, and Puerto Rico in the coastal region, mapped these schools alongside inundation and new ASCE tsunami design zones to identify at-risk schools, and is considering next steps for outreach to these schools in 2016, utilizing existing best-practice documents.

The Classroom Education & Outreach subcommittee had a dozen participants begin piloting 4th grade and high school classroom curriculum (involving seismic design challenges with shaking tables) in Berkeley and San Diego, though partnership with EERI student and regional chapters. The subcommittee hopes to expand pilot activities to Stanford and Utah in 2016. The goal of these activities is to use education in the classroom to (1) create on ongoing dialog with parents, teachers and administrators about school earthquake safety, and (2) grow advocates for school earthquake safety.

The Safety Screening, Inventory and Evaluation subcommittee conducted a preliminary review of best practices for school screening in Oregon, Washington, Utah, Alaska, and Missouri and hopes to expand the committee membership in 2016 and consider how to share these best-practice examples.

The Code Updates and Improvements subcommittee discussed various code topics related to schools, including risk categories, seismic design categories, non-structural hazards, code transparency, and school building use as shelters.

SESI also collaborated in 2015 with several FEMA-supported projects yielding great outcomes for school seismic safety. School assessment and screening efforts took place in Fall 2015 for the Kenai Borough School District in Alaska and Thurston County School Districts in Washington (more information from EERI’s Pulse). These projects provided necessary knowledge for school districts to determine which buildings in their portfolio provide an adequate level of safety and which buildings do not. The school districts can use the results to develop mitigation strategies to retrofit or replace the buildings with the highest risk, and prioritize resources.

Various members of SESI are also involved in the three-year ATC 122 project that is developing a guide detailing multi-hazard mitigation strategies and communication best practices. The guide aims to equip school safety advocates and stakeholders, including school administrators, teachers, school emergency managers, and concerned parents, with information and resources to help improve the safety of their schools, and at the same time provide tools for engineers to communicate clearly with these stakeholders and decision makers. SESI hopes to utilize the information in the final document and help with its dissemination upon its completion in 2017.

SESI will also launch a new email announcement system and a webinar series in spring 2016, to keep participants and EERI members more informed about SESI’s progress in advancing and advocating for improved school earthquake safety. Interested EERI members are always welcome to join and participate, so please contact Chair Barry Welliver or EERI Program Manager Heidi Tremayne to express your interest.

Registration Open: EERI 68th Annual Meeting, April 5–8, 2016

The Earthquake Engineering Research Institute will hold its 68th Annual Meeting, April 5–8, 2016, in San Francisco, California.

Registration and full program details are now available on the 2016 Annual Meeting website. With a theme of “Beyond the Epicenter: Expanding Our Risk Perspective,” the meeting program will delve into unanticipated effects, blind spots, and new insights in earthquake engineering.

Sessions planned include:

  • Community Resilience: What Are the Objectives and Outcomes?
  • Using Legal Action to Improve Earthquake Safety
  • Earthquakes & Social Justice: Protecting Vulnerable Populations in the U.S.
  • Moving from ideas to action: public policy for earthquake resilience

Tours will include a Napa Earthquake and Winery field trip, a Geotechnical/Geologic Overview of San Francisco’s Telegraph Hill and Waterfront, a walk focused on downtown San Francisco in earthquake, fire, and recovery, and a boat tour of the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges.

For full program, logistics, and registration details, visit the 2016 Annual Meeting website.

2015 Shah Family Innovation Prize: Call for Nominations


Do you know a young academic or professional making a difference in reducing global earthquake risk? EERI members are encouraged to nominate candidates from government, private firms, academia, and the international community for the 2015 Shah Family Innovation Prize.

The Shah Family Innovation Prize was created with a substantial gift to the EERI Endowment Fund by the Haresh C. Shah family of Stanford, California. The intent of the prize is to stimulate further creativity and leadership in the earthquake risk mitigation community and EERI.

The selection process recognizes a combination of past accomplishments and future potential, emphasizing creative and innovative thinkers who have demonstrated at early stages in their careers the potential to make major contributions. EERI membership is not required for either the nominator or candidate, although it is strongly encouraged. Candidates must be less than 35 years of age on January 1, 2016.

Submit your nominations for the Shah Innovation Prize online by January 15, 2016 at

For more information about the required nomination package, selection criteria, and past winners, visit

The 2015 Shah Prize Selection Committee: Ellen Rathje, University of Texas-Austin, (Chair); Jack Baker, Stanford University; Stacy Bartoletti, Degenkolb Engineers; Patricia Grossi, Independent Consultant; and Emily So, University of Cambridge.

EERI Response to M7.5 Earthquake in Hindu Kush mountain range near northern Afghanistan and Pakistan border

On Monday, October 26, 2015, a M7.5 earthquake struck northeastern Afghanistan near the border of Pakistan in the Hindu Kush mountain range. The EERI community extends its sympathy to the victims as rescue and relief work continues.

EERI is currently monitoring the situation from media reports and notes from colleagues in the impacted region as part of its Learning from Earthquakes Program. Local colleagues may be able to produce a report to share information with the EERI membership in the coming weeks.

For current and timely information about the earthquake, including links to the USGS event page, World Housing reports, media reports, and information from colleagues in the region, EERI has created an EERI event page in the LFE archive. This page will be updated regularly as new information becomes available.

Any members with information about earthquake impacts or response should contact Heidi Tremayne, EERI Program Manager.


EERI Has One Post-Graduation Internship Position Open. Application deadline is November 15, 2015.

The Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) has one internship position available for recent college graduates interested in gaining valuable professional experience while supporting the Institute’s mission to reduce the risks from earthquakes. This position can begin as early as January 2016. Applications should be submitted by November 15, 2015.

The approximately six-month internship offers engagement in a number of interesting EERI projects and the intern would focus primarily on the EERI’s Learning from Earthquakes, Concrete Coalition, World Housing Encyclopedia, and Confined Masonry Network projects.

Tasks are varied, although day-to-day work focuses on supporting EERI projects and staff through research, project coordination, and website development and maintenance.

Internship Requirements Include:

  • A bachelor’s or master’s degree in engineering, science, architecture or public policy.
  • Familiarity with issues in earthquake risk reduction
  • Proficiency in Excel and Word
  • Basic HTML skills and some knowledge of website development and maintenance (WordPress and Joomla), or willingness to learn
  • Skills with graphic design programs such as Adobe InDesign or Illustrator
  • Curiosity, strong interpersonal skills, a flexible attitude towards work
  • Ability to take initiative and independently solve problems
  • Basic GIS skills and some knowledge of GIS software (ArcMap, ArcGIS Online), or willingness to learn

The intern will need to work in the EERI office, which means living in the Bay Area. (No moving or housing support provided). EERI interns are provided a monthly stipend of $2,200.

EERI Post Graduation internships are a great way to gain valuable professional experience, to be involved in meaningful projects related to seismic safety and risk reduction, and to make connections with EERI’s multi-disciplinary professional community. The EERI office is conveniently located in downtown Oakland, close to BART and the freeway.

Interested applicants should upload their resume, a one-page cover letter highlighting their qualifications and interest in the EERI internship program, and two references to the secure website here: Preference is given to EERI members. Applications should be submitted by November 15, 2015. EERI would like a commitment of six months. New internship positions become available every four to six months.

Call for Volunteers in Washington for Thurston County School Seismic Assessment project

A message from Cale Ash inviting EERI members in the State of Washington to participate in a FEMA-EERI supported study to assess the seismic safety of school buildings in Thurston County, Washington:  

The Resilient Washington State initiative appropriately identified the seismic performance of public K-12 schools as a top priority. As summarized in the Call for Volunteers by John Schelling at WA Emergency Management Division, John has been working to identify ways to make this happen for our state and our students. Recently he was able to gain the support of FEMA and EERI to be able to support volunteer seismic evaluations of three school districts near Olympia. The intent is to illustrate a viable approach for achieving resilient schools that can be replicated statewide with adequate funding appropriated.

This project is similar to the Pilot School Project that SEAW supported in the past but we believe the current project is occurring at an opportune political time in districts adjacent to the State Capitol.

Degenkolb has been working with WA EMD, FEMA, and the local Thurston County school districts on the logistics of conducting site visits, collecting drawings, and reporting on the outcomes. However, we need the volunteer support of our structural and seismic engineering community! Both to assist with the seismic evaluations but also to illustrate that earthquake safety of students is a priority for us and our firms. This project has already received strong media interest so we are well on our way towards the latter!

As leaders of key SEAW Committees and the EERI Washington Chapter, we would like your help in securing volunteers by sharing this opportunity with your membership. We are looking for engineers of all experience levels as we will be forming teams to complete the ASCE 41 Tier 1 Evaluations and will take experience level into account when forming teams.

We will also reach out to St. Martin’s University, Seattle University, and University of Washington structural engineering students to offer them the opportunity to “shadow” some of the evaluation teams as a way to provide mentorship and encourage interest in seismic safety.

To help, please complete the registration form by Friday 10/23.  On the form you can enter your contact information, experience level and indicate available dates.

Note, members of the media interested in this activity, should not fill out the registration form, but instead contact me directly to find out more details about how to cover this assessment project.

Thank you for your consideration,

Cale Ash

Associate Principal

Washington S.E. 44835; California S.E. 5305

Degenkolb Engineers

600 University Street, Suite 720

Seattle, WA. 98101

p: 206.340.8102

Seeking Input and Ideas for a Potential Special Issue of Earthquake Spectra on the 2015 Gorkha, Nepal Earthquake

EERI is considering the publication of a special issue of Earthquake Spectra on the 2015 Gorkha, Nepal Earthquake, pending the acquisition of financial support to produce and publish the issue. After careful deliberation, the Learning from Earthquakes (LFE) Executive Committee and Earthquake Spectra Editorial Board have decided to develop this special earthquake issue in a new way. Instead of an open call for abstracts, an editorial team will be established to develop a comprehensive outline for the issue and then select authors for the chapters. The resulting chapters, with a lead and co-authors, will then undergo the traditional, rigorous blind peer review process, similar to all other Spectra submissions.

Earthquake Spectra special issues on earthquakes are seminal publications summarizing the most important findings and lessons from an event, and should have little or no information gaps or overlaps. With past special issues, there have been concerns that publication came too long after the event and that issues contained incomplete or uneven topical coverage due to the lengthy abstract submission process. This new procedure aims to address these deficiencies while retaining the archival journal stature of publication within Earthquake Spectra.

To avoid missing important topics, research efforts, implementation programs, or studies that can contribute to the thoroughness of the special issue, we are asking all EERI members and colleagues to share contacts and ideas for the issue with the editorial team via a community input form. The editorial team will carefully review your submissions, and follow up on leads or ideas that could influence or supplement the design of the issue. Authors need not be EERI members. EERI is planning a comprehensive special issue and is seeking the best ideas, topics, and authors possible.

Please share your input and ideas for the 2015 Gorkha, Nepal Earthquake Special Issue by completing the community input form.

EERI is also seeking financial sponsorship to facilitate production, publishing, and distribution of the special issue. If sponsorship is not found by January 2016, the special issue will not be produced. Please contact Jay Berger ( to obtain an issue prospectus and discuss how you or your organization can contribute financially to the publication of this needed special issue of Earthquake Spectra.