Model to calculate earthquake risks goes global

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London, June 3 (ANI): Scientists are working towards developing a global model that will calculate seismic risks and help them reduce vulnerability to seismic shocks.

The Global Earthquake Model (GEM) will calculate seismic risk based on the geological characteristics of an area, as well as the types of building and the building regulations in place.

So far, the project has produced technical tools needed to calculate risk, and software to help scientists work with the data.

The tools and their results will now be carefully checked before the first verified estimates of seismic risk - and global maps showing these risks - are released. However, using this data to help earthquake-stricken areas such as Haiti is the real challenge.

The GEM project, which began in 2006, involves partners from national governments, international bodies such as the World Bank and private sponsors. According to the Nature magazine, GEM's secretary general Rui Pinho, a structural engineer at the University of Pavia in Italy, said that it will be fully working by the end of 2013.

The team said that the model is working far better than it did in the pilot phase and the engine can do large calculations in just a few seconds.

"We didn't think we'd get that far," Nature magazine quoted Helen Crowley, a civil engineer at the European Centre for Training and Research in Earthquake Engineering in Pavia, as saying.

But an issue cropping up is that communicating risk to a layperson could be difficult, and what a homeowner needs could be opposing to what a researcher may need.

The long-term aim of GEM is to allow local officials or members of the public to add data about their local area using a communication portal, and run a calculation to get an idea of the seismic risk the area is subject to.

Scientists hope that in developing countries GEM could help to bring in simple rules for sound construction, in areas where many of the local population remain unaware of the seismic risk to which they are vulnerable. (ANI)

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