SSA Session on Low-Probability Faults

Hobbs, Tiegan (NRCAN/RNCAN) tiegan.hobbs at
Mon Jan 4 20:10:59 UTC 2021

Happy New Year, to members of the geodesy community!

With the Seismological Society of America’s annual meeting abstract submission deadline approaching (January 13th), we wish to solicit contributions to our session, entitled ‘How Should Low-Probability Earthquakes be Considered in Hazard Assessments?’. Please find the abstract below, and feel free to reach out if you have any questions. The abstract portal can be found at

TITLE: How Should Low-Probability Earthquakes be Considered in Hazard Assessments?
ABSTRACT: Large, shallow, crustal earthquakes can have very long recurrence intervals, on the order of tens of thousands of years. However, their occurrence near urban centers represents one of the most significant and enigmatic seismic risks facing our society today. For example, the 2011 Christchurch earthquake resulted in losses of 3-4% of New Zealand’s Gross Domestic Product [Parker & Steenkamp, 2012], despite occurring on a previously unknown, shallow fault within the city limits. This highlights the need for seismic hazard assessment that in some way considers the impact of low probability earthquakes.
There have been great strides in characterizing some of the faults capable of this type of rupture, largely from the disciplines of satellite geodesy and paleoseismology. These studies are often expensive and spatially limited, however, leading to fault catalogs which are heterogeneous in content and demonstrably incomplete. For this reason, fault databases are inconsistently incorporated in seismic hazard maps even when there is some information available about a potentially damaging earthquake source. To bridge this gap will require participation from scientists, engineers, and government agencies to (1) establish how much can be known about faults, (2) evaluate impacts to society and consider their sensitivity to unknowns, and (3) consider the implications for policy. This session invites presentations which highlight recent advances in characterizing low probability faults, including their geometry, mechanism, magnitude-recurrence interval, maximum magnitude, or other properties. We then welcome studies which quantitatively assess the resulting seismic hazards, or consider the effect of such faults on seismic hazard mapping programs. The goal of this session is to facilitate a vibrant discussion concerning the future of seismic assessment which can fully incorporate the latest research in earthquake physics, geodesy, geomorphology, and tectonics.
CONVENERS: Hobbs, Tiegan E | Geological Survey of Canada | tiegan.hobbs at<mailto:tiegan.hobbs at>
Rollins, J. Chris | University of Leeds | J.C.Rollins at<mailto:J.C.Rollins at>
Morell, Kristin | University of California Santa Barbara | kmorell at<mailto:kmorell at>

Tiegan Hobbs, PhD, MSCE
Seismic Risk Scientist | Geological Survey of Canada
Adjunct Professor | University of British Columbia<>
+1 (236) 330-2180

Working on the traditional and unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples.

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