Message from the President

mary comerio 2015Welcome to The Pulse of Earthquake Engineering, the bi-weekly email newsletter of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute.
— Mary C. Comerio, EERI President


Search The Pulse

2016 Annual Meeting

USGS Presentation on Induced Seismicity Added to Annual Meeting More >

News of the Institute

EERI Outstanding Student Paper Awardees: Reagan Chandramohan and Nathan Jo More >

Understanding Building Code Implementation: EERI Housner Fellows Travel to Nepal More >

New EERI Post-Graduate Intern: Shizza Fatima More >

News of the Profession

Links to Recent News and Views More >

Learning from Earthquakes

Reconnaissance Reports from Oct 2015 Afghanistan-Pakistan Earthquake Now Available More >


Building Seismic Safety Council NEHRP and Project 17 Colloquium on March 8 More >

Western U.S. Dam Safety Conference March 9-11 More >


New PEER Report: Selection and Scaling of Ground Motions for Nonlinear Response History Analysis of Buildings in Performance-Based Earthquake Engineering More >

Earthquake Spectra: Preprint Manuscript More >


BSSC Second Annual Colloquium
March 8, 2016
Burlingame, California, USA

Seismic Design for Dams in the Western U.S.
March 9-11, 2016
Sacramento, California, USA

68th EERI Annual Meeting
April 5–8, 2016
San Francisco, California, USA

Seismological Society of America 2016 Meeting
April 20–22, 2016
Reno, Nevada, USA

2016 National Earthquake Conference
May 4–6, 2016
Long Beach, California, USA

IABSE Conference Guangzhou: Bridges and Structures Sustainability
May 8–11, 2016
Guangzhou, China

7th China-Japan-US Trilateral Symposium on Lifeline Earthquake Engineering
June 1–4, 2016
Shanghai, China

World Multidisciplinary Civil Engineering-Architecture-Urban Planning Symposium
June 13–17, 2016
Prague, Czech Republic

8th Int'l Conference on Bridge Maintenance, Safety, and Management
June 26–30, 2016
Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil

1st International Conference on Natural Hazards and Infrastructure
June 28–30, 2016
Chania, Greece

6th Int'l Conference on Recent Advances in Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering and Soil Dynamics
August 1–6, 2016
Roorkee, India

Istanbul Bridge Conference 2016
August 8–10, 2016
Istanbul, Turkey

World Multidisciplinary Earth Sciences Symposium
September 5–9, 2016
Prague, Czech Republic

5th Int'l Symposium on Life-Cycle Civil Engineering
October 16–19, 2016
Delft, The Netherlands

16WCEE World Conference Earthquake Engineering
January 9–13, 2017
Santiago, Chile

3rd International Conference on Performance-based Design in Earthquake Geotechnical Engineering
July 16–19, 2017
Vancouver, Canada

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2016 Annual Meeting

USGS Presentation on Induced Seismicity Added to Annual Meeting

am 2016 

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

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. Just added to the opening plenary session is a presentation by Mark Petersen (M. EERI, 2002) on the new USGS model on induced seismicity, scheduled for release at the end of March. Petersen is chief of the USGS National Seismic Modeling Project, which forecasts the ground shaking hazard in the United States due to natural or human activity.

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

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News of the Institute

EERI Outstanding Student Paper Awardees: Reagan Chandramohan and Nathan Jo

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 compete by submitting papers that are original work. The papers are judged based on their contribution to the field and their overall quality.

Each paper is ranked on technical merit, clarity of expression, and relevance for the earthquake engineering community. Following synthesis of individual judge rankings, the Student Activities Committee chooses undergraduate and graduate student winners.

The following students were awarded 2015 EERI Outstanding Graduate and Undergraduate Papers. Winners will receive recognition at the 2016 EERI Annual Meeting opening plenary.

Graduate Student Paper Award

"A Structural Reliability Framework for Collapse Risk Assessment Incorporating Ground Motion Duration and Response Spectral Shape"
Reagan Chandramohan, Stanford University

Reagan-ChandramohanReagan Chandramohan (M. EERI, 2014) is a Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University. He is investigating the influence of earthquake ground motion duration on the seismic collapse risk of structures, under the guidance of professors Gregory Deierlein (M. EERI, 1989) and Jack Baker (M. EERI, 2004). His research helps accurately quantify the risk posed by earthquakes to our networks and infrastructure, especially at sites located near active subduction zones around the world, which are known to produce large magnitude earthquakes of extremely long duration, e.g. the US Pacific Northwest, Japan, Northern India, and New Zealand. He has demonstrated that structures designed for such sites, without due consideration of the effect of ground motion duration, have lower margins of safety against collapse. He is also exploring methods to incorporate the effect of ground motion duration in current structural performance assessment and seismic design standards.

Paper Abstract: A structural reliability framework is developed to post-process the results of an incremental dynamic analysis (IDA) and compute a hazard-consistent collapse fragility curve. The ability to produce hazard-consistent collapse risk estimates eliminates a major drawback in the IDA procedure and brings its capabilities on par with multiple stripe analysis (MSA). The proposed framework uses two secondary ground motion intensity measures: SaRatio, which is used to quantify response spectral shape and 5-75% significant duration (Ds5-75). Both SaRatio, and Ds5-75 are demonstrated to be efficient predictors of a ground motion’s collapse intensity, which is a measure of its potential to cause structural collapse. In the case of the ductile eight-story reinforced concrete moment frame building analyzed in this study, they are capable of explaining 81% of the variance in the ground motion collapse intensities. The collapse fragility curve estimated using this framework is found to compare well to the fragility curve obtained by conducting MSA using hazard-consistent ground motions. MSA is shown to represent a simulation-based approach to solve the same structural reliability problem. Finally, optimal ground motion selection strategies to produce accurate collapse risk estimates are proposed.

Undergraduate Student Paper Award

"Energy-Based Design Method for Seismic Isolators in Highway Bridges"
Nathan Jo, CSU-Pomona

nathan-joNathan Jo (M. EERI, 2015) is an undergraduate senior at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. His research investigates the feasibility of energy-based design methods for seismic isolation systems. Nathan’s passion for earthquake-damage mitigation stems from his internship in structural engineering for single-family residential projects and his concern for public safety in earthquake-prone areas around the world. Nathan is currently the Co-Chairman of the Younger Members Committee of the Structural Engineers Association of Southern California.

Paper Abstract: Traditional force-based and displacement-based methods for the design of seismic isolation systems use simplifying assumptions to account for the nonlinear behavior of seismic isolators. This results in inaccurate predictions of the structures response during earthquakes. As an alternative to overcome the limitations of traditional methods, energy can be set as the main criterion in the design of seismic isolators. In this study, an energy-based design method is applied to a seismic isolation system to include the nonlinear behavior of seismic isolators; thus, simplified assumptions to predict the force-displacement demand on the structure are avoided. This method is applied to a four-span highway bridge with seismic isolators atop the three columns and at the abutments. A set of nonlinear structural analyses is performed through computer software to assess the abilities of the traditional versus energy-based design methods to accurately predict the response of the structure during earthquakes. Based on the analyzed cases, the proposed energy-based design method resulted with more accurate predictions in force and displacement demands than traditional methods did. The proposed method also effectively confined all plastic deformations into the seismic isolators while the columns and deck remained elastic and undamaged.

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

Understanding Building Code Implementation: EERI Housner Fellows Travel to Nepal

building-codes-BevingtonThe 2014 Class of EERI Housner Fellows will travel to Nepal this month to conduct fieldwork as part of their group project, Strengthening Building Code Enforcement in Developing Countries: A Case Study of Nepal. The primary purpose of the fieldwork is to gain a broader understanding of the issues around building code adoption and compliance in Nepal.

During the Nepal field study, the Housner Fellows will conduct workshops and interviews with relevant stakeholders in Nepal to elicit information about the current status, future plans, challenges and opportunities around the issue of building code implementation, and compliance within and outside Kathmandu Valley. These workshops and interviews will facilitate dialogue between the Housner Fellows and a range of local stakeholders including homeowners, engineers, masons, and local and national officials. The Fellows have been coordinating closely with colleagues from the National Society of Earthquake Technology (NSET) in Nepal to plan activities during their trip and connect with relevant stakeholders in the region.

The Housner Fellow Program, named after EERI founder George Housner, and funded in part by the Global Facility for Disaster Risk Reduction of the World Bank and the US Federal Emergency Management Agency, equips a select group of promising and motivated professionals worldwide to lead and advocate for efforts to reduce earthquake risk. EERI Housner Fellows benefit from training, mentorship, networking, and from the execution of a group project.

Read more about the 2014 Housner Fellows

New EERI Post-Graduate Intern: Shizza Fatima

shizza-cherryThe Institute is delighted to introduce Shizza Fatima (M. EERI, 2015), a new intern now working at the EERI office in Oakland, California.

Shizza is a recent graduate from Johns Hopkins University with a BS in civil engineering. She fell in love with structures during her undergraduate study and, as a part of her senior year thesis, she designed a student building next to Thomas Jefferson’s iconic Rotunda at the University of Virginia. She also gained valuable experience in transportation engineering through an internship in Islamabad, Pakistan, where she was involved in road and highway design in the city. Shizza was named a C. Corner Brownley Scholar at Johns Hopkins and she received the Civil Engineering Faculty Recognition Award in May 2015 from the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering for academic excellence and community leadership.

At EERI, Shizza is excited to work on the World Housing Encyclopedia, Confined Masonry Network, and the School Earthquake Safety Initiative. She hopes to contribute to the earthquake engineering community through her efforts. She will be applying to graduate schools for admission in Fall 2017 to pursue a master’s degree focused on structural engineering and seismic design.

EERI will soon say goodbye to intern Cherry Chan (M. EERI, 2014), who has been instrumental in helping EERI develop an online data archive for the 2014 South Napa Earthquake. She has made significant progress in improving data archiving and mapping protocols for EERI. Cherry is currently seeking an entry-level position in GIS, and is strongly recommended by EERI staff. You can view her portfolio at Those interested in reaching Cherry about employment opportunities should contact Maggie Ortiz at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

EERI provides interns with multi-disciplinary professional experience and the opportunity to collaborate and network with others within the earthquake engineering profession. Each intern focuses on a specific endeavor of EERI. Their roles, both in tandem and separately, further the Institute's mission to gather and disseminate information about earthquake risk reduction and advocate for realistic measures to reduce the harmful effects of earthquakes.

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News of the Profession

Links to Recent News and Views

Ten recent stories, reports, or opinions from around the Web:

one7.1 quake shook different parts of Anchorage in very different ways (Alaska Dispatch) January 24 quake data surprises researchers. external link icon

twoAlaska earthquake jolts Anchorage (Alaska Dispatch) Shaking a good reminder of the important work civil engineers do: “It was gratifying.” external link icon

threeScientists try to decipher signatures of past earthquakes (Economic Times) Studying stalagmites to expand knowledge on Himalayan earthquake risk. external link icon

fourArticle puts NW earthquake risk on White House agenda (Seattle Times) Story in The New Yorker inspires plan for seismic resilience summit. external link icon

fiveNepal formally begins much delayed earthquake reconstruction (Washington Post) Nine months after quake, official launch of reconstruction of about 1 million homes and buildings. external link icon

sixAlternative post quake housing in Nepal (Nepali Times) Rebuilding homes that are safer, environmentally friendlier—and cheaper. external link icon

sevenWastewater disposal volumes rose 81 percent in six years as earthquakes rumbled more frequently (Tulsa World) Study documents "most concerning culprit" of Oklahoma quakes. external link icon

eightOklahoma representative to introduce amendments regarding earthquakes increase (OU Daily) Reimbursing for earthquake insurance and making the Oklahoma Geological Survey a stand-alone agency. external link icon

nineL.A. landlords and tenants will share earthquake retrofit costs (LA Times) Deal means city can begin implementing the most sweeping mandatory seismic laws in the nation. external link icon

tenValley’s dingbat apartment buildings will benefit from new earthquake law (Los Angeles Daily News) Boxy apartment buildings with quirky mid-century charm are targets for LA soft-story strengthening. external link icon

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Learning from Earthquakes

Reconnaissance Reports from Oct 2015 Afghanistan-Pakistan Earthquake Now Available

Two short reports of reconnaissance observations on the M7.5 earthquake in Northeastern Afghanistan of October 26, 2015, are now posted on the EERI Learning from Earthquakes (LFE) archive page for the event:

  • "Strong Ground Motions and Behavior of Buildings During the 26th Oct. 2015 Afghanistan–Pakistan Earthquake" by Dr. Naveed Ahmad, University of Engineering and Technology Peshawar, Pakistan. | PDF external link icon
  • "Reconnaissance report on the Mw 7.5 Hindu Kush earthquake of 26th October 2015 and the subsequent aftershocks" by Najif Ismail (M. EERI, 2015) and Nouman Khattak, United Arab Emirates University, United Arab Emirates. | PDF external link icon

In addition to the two reports above, the LFE archive web page for the event also features links to media reports, information from the U.S. Geological Survey, World Housing Encyclopedia reports, and information from the 2005 Kashmir Earthquake.

Read more on the LFE archive page for the October 26, 2015 earthquake external link icon

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Building Seismic Safety Council NEHRP and Project 17 Colloquium on March 8

NIBS logoThe National Institute of Building Sciences Building Seismic Safety Council (BSSC) will host the second annual BSSC Colloquium: Seismic Design Update 2016: An Interactive Exploration of the 2020 NEHRP Provisions and Project 17 Issues, external link icon on March 8, 2016, in Burlingame, California from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm.

Covered topics will include introduction to NEHRP, design and analysis; geotechnical/ground motion; concrete, masonry, and wood provisions; nonstructural components; nonbuilding structures; uncertainty vs. precision; acceptable risk; multi-period spectral parameters; and deterministic caps. The course will offer 6.0 Continuing Education Units (approval is pending from The American Institute of Architects for AIA learning units).

This year’s colloquium also will feature a two-hour workshop on “Public Input on Issues for The 2020 NEHRP Provisions.” David R. Bonneville (M. EERI, 1988), senior principal of Degenkolb Engineers and chair of the Provisions Update Committee (PUC), will facilitate an audience-based, open discussion on topics and issues that should be considered by the Provisions Update Committee in the 2020 Provisions cycle.

Registration, full agenda, and list of distinguished speakers are available on the BSSC web page: external link icon

Western U.S. Dam Safety Conference March 9-11

The West Region of the Association of State Dam Safety Officials will host the 2016 Regional Conference, Engineering for Extremes: Seismic Design for Dams in the Western U.S.,external link icon in Sacramento, California, March 9-11, 2016.

The conference will focus on the state of the practice, and explore the state of the art, for seismic design of dams in the western United States. From the aspiring professional to the seasoned engineer, this specialty conference promises to share the expertise and experience of internationally-recognized seismic design and dam engineering experts. Registration and more information on the conference web page. external link icon

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New PEER Report: Selection and Scaling of Ground Motions for Nonlinear Response History Analysis of Buildings in Performance-Based Earthquake Engineering

peer logo 75The Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center (PEER) has published a new report by N. Simon Kwong (M. EERI, 2010) and Anil K. Chopra (M. EERI, 1973), available as a free download on the PEER website: "Selection and Scaling of Ground Motions for Nonlinear Response History Analysis of Buildings in Performance-Based Earthquake Engineering" (PDF external link icon).

This report investigates the issue of selecting and scaling ground motions as input excitations for response history analyses of buildings in performance-based earthquake engineering. Many ground motion selection and modification (GMSM) procedures have been developed to select ground motions for a wide variety of objectives. This report focuses on the selection and scaling of single, horizontal components of ground motion for estimating seismic demand hazard curves (SDHCs) of multistory frames at a given site.

Read the complete abstract external link icon and browse the full list of PEER reports from the past year. external link icon

Earthquake Spectra: Preprint Manuscript

spectra 150A new preprint manuscripts have been posted to the Earthquake Spectra website prior to formal publication. The paper to be published is:

  • "Modular Analytical Solutions for Foundation Damping in Soil-Structure Interaction Applications" by Michael Givens (M. EERI, 2014), George Mylonakis (M. EERI, 1996), and Jonathan P. Stewart (M. EERI, 1994)

To read all current preprint manuscripts posted, visit Earthquake Spectra preprints.external link icon

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