EERI Distinguished Lecture by Dr. David Wald: “Challenges in Estimating Real-time Earthquake Shaking & Impact”

David_WaldOn December 4, 2014 the PEER Center and EERI Northern California Chapter will host the EERI distinguished lecture “Challenges in Estimating Real-time Earthquake Shaking and Impact” by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) seismologist Dr. David Wald.

Date: Thursday, December 4, 2014
Location: Room 250, Sutardja Dai Hall (CITRIS), UC Berkeley Directions
Time: 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm, Pacific Standard Time
Speaker: Dr. David Wald, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Colorado School of Mines

Who should attend this lecture?
All researchers, engineers, students, seismologists, earth scientists, and those interested in earthquake loss estimates and modeling are encouraged to attend. Consulting firms are encouraged to host this lecture in your office.

How can I attend this lecture?

    • – Attend in person at Room 250, Sutardja Dai Hall (CITRIS), University of California, Berkeley. Directions



  • A video of this presentation is available on PEER’s YouTube Account for viewing after the event.

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.

USGS ShakeMap image of Napa, CA event on August 24, 2014.

USGS ShakeMap image of Napa, CA event on August 24, 2014.

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.

Speaker Bio
David Wald, Ph.D., is a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in Golden, Colorado and is on the Geophysics Faculty at the Colorado School of Mines. He is involved in research, management, operations, and development for the National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) and the Advanced National Seismic System. Dr. Wald developed and manages “ShakeMap” and “Did You Feel it?,” and is responsible for leading the development of other systems for post-earthquake response, information, and pre-earthquake mitigation, including “ShakeCast” and “PAGER,” among others.

Previously at Caltech, and now at the Colorado School of Mines, Wald has advised dozens of post-doctoral, graduate, and undergraduate student research projects. His own scientific interests include the characterization of rupture processes from complex recent and historic earthquakes using combined geodetic, teleseismic, and strong motion data; waveform modeling and inversion; analysis of ground motion hazards and site effects; earthquake source physics; and modeling earthquake-induced landslides, liquefaction, and losses. This research has resulted in more than 450 professional publications that David has authored or co-authored, including journal papers, USGS publication series, conference papers, and published abstracts.

Dr. Wald has been the Seismological Society of America (SSA) Distinguished Lecturer and Associate Editor, and serves on the Society’s Board of Directors. He is an Associate Editor for Earthquake Spectra. He was awarded SSA’s 2009 Frank Press Public Service Award, and a Department of the Interior Superior Service Award in 2010. He earned his B.S. in Physics & Geology at St. Lawrence University in New York, an M.S. in Geophysics at the University of Arizona, and his Ph.D. in Geophysics at Caltech.

The distinguished lecture is organized by the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center (PEER) and co-hosted by the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) Northern California Chapter.