2018 National Seismic Hazard Assessment

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  • <p>Geoscience Australia has recently released its 2018 National Seismic Hazard Assessment (NSHA18). Results from the NSHA18 indicate significantly lower seismic hazard across almost all Australian localities at the 1/500 annual exceedance probability level relative to the factors adopted for the current Australian Standard AS1170.4–2007 (R2018). These new hazard estimates, coupled with larger kp factors, have challenged notions of seismic hazard in Australia in terms of the recurrence of damaging ground motions. As a consequence, the new hazard estimates have raised questions over the appropriateness of the prescribed probability level used in the AS1170.4 to determine appropriate seismic demands for the design of ordinary-use structures. Therefore, it is suggested that the ground-motion exceedance probability used in the current AS1170.4 be reviewed in light of the recent hazard assessment and the expected performance of modern buildings for rarer ground motions. <p>Whilst adjusting the AS1170.4 exceedance probability level would be a major departure from previous earthquake loading standards, it would bring it into line with other international building codes in similar tectonic environments. Additionally, it would offer opportunities to further modernise how seismic demands are considered in Australian building design. In particular, the authors highlight the following additional opportunities: 1) the use of uniform hazard spectra to replace and simplify the spectral shape factors, which do not deliver uniform hazard across all natural periods; 2) updated site amplification factors to ensure continuity with modern ground-motion models, and; 3) the potential to define design ground motions in terms of uniform collapse risk rather than uniform hazard. Estimation of seismic hazard at any location is an uncertain science. However, as our knowledge improves, our estimates of the hazard will converge on the actual – but unknowable – (time independent) hazard. It is therefore prudent to regularly update the estimates of the seismic demands in our building codes using the best available evidence-based methods and models.