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GEM releases five national and three regional earthquake models for public good application


Jan 23, 2021

January 25th 2021, Pavia. Today, in line with GEM’s mission to support disaster risk reduction efforts toward a world that is safe from earthquakes, the GEM Foundation released 11 hazard and risk models covering five countries and three regions in Asia and the Pacific for public-good, non-commercial use. The models are for Canada, Japan, Mexico, Northeast Asia, Northwest Asia, South Pacific Islands, the Philippines, Alaska, Hawaii, California (based on UCERF3) and the rest of the conterminous United States. (download the brochure)

The updated models, which includes hazard, exposure and vulnerability data are part of the Global Earthquake Hazard and Risk Models mosaic launched in December 2018. All of these products are available from GEM’s Products page (, with the majority of the models available by application for a free license for non-commercial or public-good use.

Increasing exposure of critical infrastructure and economic assets has been the major cause of long-term increases in economic loss from disasters and shows that the economic incentives for building in many hazard-prone areas continue to outweigh the perceived disaster risks.

Four of the countries in this release - United States, Japan, Mexico and the Philippines - are in the Top 15 countries globally in terms of the total number of buildings and in terms of average annual economic losses from earthquakes, which means that there are residential, commercial and industrial buildings in these countries that are concentrated in areas susceptible to mid-high probability of ground shaking due to earthquakes.

However, it must be noted that even though Japan and the US have put in place some mitigation measures to lower the vulnerability of their building stock, they still appear in the top 15 list due to the higher asset valuations in the two countries; whereas Mexico and the Philippines appear in the top 15 even though the valuation of their building stock is relatively much lower because their building stocks are more vulnerable to earthquakes.

“Today, the overall potential risk around the world is substantially underestimated, in part because we lack fundamental information about hazard and risk, and in part because current models do not fully capture the complexities and cascading impacts, exacerbating the effect of events at all scales. We hope that making GEM’s earthquake models available will lead to insights into how to improve models and motivate others to use them to mitigate and reduce future earthquake risk worldwide.”- John Schneider, GEM Secretary General.

The seismic hazard, exposure, vulnerability and risk data can be used by risk managers, urban planners, emergency responders and humanitarian agencies for input to a wide range of disaster risk reduction activities including monitoring of the Sendai Framework indicators.

Most models were developed in collaboration with various public and private institutions, national governments, and individual experts, using GEM’s OpenQuake engine. The models being released for the US, Canada, and Japan are translations of national or subnational models developed by the USGS and FEMA, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), and the Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion (HERP), respectively, which have been translated into GEM’s OpenQuake format.

An earlier batch of earthquake models was released on October 13th, 2020 in the observance of UNDRR’s International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, and are available here.

Open and free distribution of data, models and tools will continue to be at the core of GEM’s work, and will further strengthen its efforts to broaden their availability and accessibility.


Editor’s Notes:

For a complete list of available products, visit the GEM Products webpage. Download the brochure for the models in this release here

Interview opportunities:

John Schneider, GEM Secretary General

Marco Pagani, Hazard Team Leader

Vitor Silva, Risk Team Leader

Paul Henshaw, IT Team Leader

Press contact:

Jephraim Oro: (English)

Sandra Giacomini: (Italian/English)

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