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Albania’s Institute of Geosciences (IGEO) and GEM collaborate to update the national seismic hazard model


Apr 11, 2023

GEM and IGEO-Albania are currently implementing a 1-year project funded by the Central European Initiative (CEI - and the Albanian Electricity Corporation (KESH - to update Albania’s probabilistic seismic hazard model through a series of technical workshops.

The first and second workshops, which took place in Pavia, Italy from January 23-27 and March 21-24, focused on analyzing and converting earthquake catalogs and databases into GEM’s OpenQuake database format - NRML (Natural Hazard Risk Markup Language); and the selection of Ground Motion Prediction Equations (GMPEs) respectively. The third and fourth workshops will focus on running and calibrating the model in the OpenQuake engine based on the results of the previous workshops.

The expert supervisor from the Albanian Team was Prof. Dr. Neki Kuka who brings extensive knowledge in this area. The IGEO contingent was composed of Anila Xhahysa, Edmond Dushi, Damiano Koxhaj, Klajdi Qoshi, Besian Rama, Migena Ceyhan and Kristina Matraku.

In the first workshop held in January, GEM had the opportunity to chat with Edmond Dushi, Seismologist and Vice Director of the Institute of Geosciences, (IGEO); and Anila Xhahysa, Structural Engineer and Head of the Seismology Department (IGEO). Below are some of the excerpts from the interview.

On the motivation of IGEO-Albania to partner with GEM

“Our building code is quite old and outdated, dating back to 1989 and it’s based on a macroseismic intensity map, hence with the adoption of the Eurocode normative, we are hoping that this partnership would help us update the probabilistic seismic hazard model for Albania, in order to support the national annex of this new Design Code”, Anila said.

Anila further added, “We already have a seismic hazard model which is substantially good. However, there are features that we would like to improve like the ground motion prediction equations and adaptive smoothing, being dynamically updated with recent research”. 

Edmond said, “The partnership is also an opportunity to share the institute’s experience with earthquake cataloging and what we’ve learned about earthquake faults based on our studies in the past. Our institute is the main institution on geosciences and we are working mainly on recording earthquake events and building the database. We also need to have more detailed models of faults and the ability to link together these two classes of information”.

Interview with IGEO's Edmond Dushi (R), Seismologist and Vice Director, and Anila Xhahysa, Structural Engineer and Head of the Seismology Department.

OpenQuake – Bridging IGEO and GEM

Anila joined an online OpenQuake training in 2022. It was the first time that she used the software and found it a great platform for building PSHA as well as stochastic models. This led her to request in-person training, which started the discussion about IGEO’s hazard modelling needs. The project was developed with Marco Pagani, GEM Hazard Team Coordinator, which was eventually funded by the European Investment Fund.

From the institutional side, Edmond added that IGEO has been working to connect with groups or organizations that use the latest or most advanced methods working in the field of seismic hazard modelling. As a small institution with limited resources to develop its own advanced tools, Edmond added that IGEO saw an opportunity to partner with GEM to address the current gaps.

On the importance of the GEM partnership 

Edmond and Anila expect that the partnership will significantly improve the quality of future seismic hazard model development. Both also expected that the partnership would extend from the current focus on hazard to the development of seismic risk models. They summarized the importance of the partnership into three key areas:

-Improvement of public and private seismic risk reduction strategy-

By dynamically updating Albania’s seismic hazard model using GEM tools and methodologies, national risk reduction strategies will improve and move toward modernization. On the private sector side, both foresee that insurance companies will be able to develop tailor-fit products for their clients.

-Better emergency response planning-

Since Albania’s civil protection uses IGEO’S data and tools for emergency response planning, an improved seismic hazard model based on the latest science would lead to a better warning system and emergency response in the country.

-Modernization of seismic hazard modelling-

Both agreed that the partnership would help in IGEO’s journey towards modernization and could even influence the current institute’s philosophy and practices in developing future seismic hazard maps in favor of an open and more robust hazard modelling framework.

On their impression of the workshop

“The presentation of the modeling workflow was good and I believe it can be adopted by many organizations as a framework for improving the processing of future hazard models. Within this context, I see that there are some parameters within this framework that can lead us to improve our data and actual model for future needs,” said Edmond.

Anila found the workshop “great, substantive and concise. The workshop had sound theoretical information and I think that made it beneficial for us”.

Parting words

“We hope that this local project will serve as an example for other government agencies in other fields of studies in Albania to open up their codes and their products, to start sharing to improve our systems and hopefully make Albania a better and more disaster resilient country.” – Anila and Edmond, IGEO.

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