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From Data Sharing to Disaster Response: USGS-GEM Agreement to Strengthen Global Earthquake Preparedness


May 14, 2024

May 14, 2024

Photo credit: David Wald, USGS

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) Geologic Hazards Science Center and the Global Earthquake Model (GEM) Foundation signed a new 5-year technical agreement on May 2nd, 2024 at the Seismological Society of America (SSA) Annual Meeting in Anchorage, Alaska, with the joint objective of improving earthquake preparedness and response efforts worldwide. This collaborative effort will leverage the expertise and resources of both organisations, leading to advancements in seismic hazard and risk modelling and ultimately a more earthquake-resilient future.

Helen Crowley, GEM Secretary General: “This agreement renews our longstanding relationship with USGS on a number of technical fronts. By combining our expertise with USGS, we can together develop more reliable hazard and risk models and products that can be implemented on a global scale.”

Towards a Resilient Future: A Shared Mission

Earthquakes are a constant threat, posing a significant risk to life, infrastructure, and economies around the globe. Both USGS and GEM share a common mission: to understand and mitigate earthquake hazards and risks. The USGS Geologic Hazards Science Center, a U.S. government agency, is located in Golden, Colorado and monitors earthquakes globally, provides real-time loss estimations after major events, and assesses seismic hazard nationally. GEM, an international non-profit organisation, develops open-source tools and models for seismic hazard and risk assessment at global, regional and national scales.

Building on Strengths: Key Areas of Collaboration

The partnership outlines several key areas of collaboration aimed at strengthening earthquake preparedness and response on a global scale. These include:

1. Joint Research and Development: The agreement paves the way for collaborative research to improve earthquake hazard and loss modelling approaches. This will involve identifying gaps in existing methods and developing new tools to better estimate the impacts of earthquakes.

2. Enhanced Communication and Data Sharing: USGS and GEM will work together to improve communication and share scientific knowledge and data. This will allow for the integration of USGS's ShakeMap products, which describe ground shaking intensity following earthquakes, into GEM's scenario modelling efforts. Additionally, GEM's Global Seismic Risk Model will be tested and implemented within the USGS PAGER system, which provides near real-time loss estimations after earthquakes.

3. Vulnerability and Exposure Modelling: A crucial aspect of the collaboration is working together to refine vulnerability and exposure modelling, particularly in the United States. This will involve joint investigations to analyse and calibrate earthquake vulnerability models for various building types.

4. Global Impact: The agreement extends beyond the US. Both organisations will work together to create collaborative initiatives with regional and national government agencies. This will promote the use of open-source tools and data to advance earthquake risk reduction efforts worldwide.

Ryan Gold, Center Director, Geologic Hazards Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey: “The USGS is proud to partner with GEM to leverage our combined strengths in earthquake science and engineering. This collaboration will lead to significant advancements in how we assess and communicate earthquake risks, ultimately saving lives around the world.”

To learn more about USGS earthquake products, visit To download GEM seismic hazard and risk products, visit

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Photo credit: David Wald, USGS



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