David Wald (M. EERI, 1988), USGS seismologist and Colorado School of Mines adjunct professor, will deliver the 2014 EERI Distinguished Lecture, “Challenges in Estimating Real-time Earthquake Shaking & Impact,” at the Tenth U.S. National Conference on Earthquake Engineering (10NCEE) to be held July 21–25 in Anchorage, Alaska.
Wald has been a pioneer in developing tools, such as “Did You Feel It?,” Shake Map, and ShakeCast, that serve a broad audience including first responders, government officials, utilities, earth scientists, and engineers. More than 70,000 individuals receive ShakeMap alerts in California, Washington, Utah, Hawaii, Nevada, and Alaska.
Wald and Paul Earle developed PAGER (Prompt Assessment of Global Earthquakes for Response), which estimates the number of people subjected to levels of ground shaking within 30 minutes of an earthquake anywhere around the globe. The PAGER report also provides a simplified color coded alert related to the level of the catastrophe using the Earthquake Impact Scale (EIS). This advancement has enabled humanitarian organizations to provide quick and appropriate responses to disasters.
Wald earned a Ph.D. from Caltech after which he worked as a National Research Council postdoctoral research associate, 1993-1995. Wald’s experience also includes a position at the USGS in Pasadena, both as a seismologist and visiting associate faculty at Caltech, and a consulting seismologist with Woodward-Clyde Consultants in Pasadena, 1986-1988. He is an excellent speaker and often appears on television in news broadcasts or specials produced by the History Channel, the Learning Channel, PBS, and others to discuss earthquakes, earthquake ground motions, hazards, and damage.
Dr. Wald’s groundbreaking work will fit with the “Frontiers of Earthquake Engineering” theme of the 10NCEE in Alaska. His ability to address the needs of many audiences means that he is able to create a talk with broad appeal. His innovative use of technology to address challenging problems will interest students who are truly immersed in the information age.
Abstract: “Challenges in Estimating Real-time Earthquake Shaking & Impact” Lecture
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has developed several near-real time earthquake information systems that provide rapid and automated alerting of estimated economic and human impacts following earthquakes. In this talk I describe the four components that rapidly assess an earthquake’s impact. First, earthquakes trigger rapid source characterization; second, these source parameters help inform our estimates of shaking-distribution (ShakeMap). Third, losses are modeled by computing populations exposed per shaking intensity level, and country-specific loss functions are used to provide estimates of economic impact and potential casualties (PAGER). Finally, these uncertain loss estimates are communicated in an appropriate form for actionable decision-making among a variety of users.
Several aspects of our problem cannot yet be adequately solved with purely empirical or solely mechanistic approaches. The “physics-based” model components are essential for informing empirical loss models where they are data-limited, and for providing a framework for better understanding the causative pathways that dominate earthquake losses. In the course of explaining the end-to-end strategies and science/engineering we employ, I describe the pragmatic choices made in balancing the uncertainties in and benefits provided by our empirical and physical models. Recognizing and reconciling the complimentary benefits of data-driven versus theoretical problem solving is at the core of our end-to-end earthquake hazard and loss estimates, as it is for a wide variety of other challenges within the earth and engineering sciences.
EERI student chapters will be sent a survey later this year where they can make a request for Dr. David Wald’s presentation of his Distinguished Lecture at their school. Other groups who would like to make this request should contact the EERI office at email@example.com and 510-451-0905.