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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.

  • Probabilistic Tsunami Hazard Assessment (PTHA) often proceeds by constructing a suite of hypothetical earthquake scenarios, and modelling their tsunamis and occurrence-rates. Both tsunami and occurrence-rate models are affected by the representation of earthquake slip and rigidity, but the overall importance of these factors for far-field PTHA is unclear. We study the sensitivity of an Australia-wide PTHA to six different far-field earthquake scenario representations, including two rigidity models (constant and depth-varying) combined with three slip models: fixed-area-uniform-slip (with rupture area deterministically related to magnitude); variable-area-uniform-slip; and spatially heterogeneous-slip. Earthquake-tsunami scenarios are tested by comparison with DART-buoy tsunami observations, demonstrating biases in some slip models. Scenario occurrence-rates are modelled using Bayesian techniques to account for uncertainties in seismic coupling, maximum-magnitudes and Gutenberg-Richter b-values. The approach maintains reasonable consistency with the historical earthquake record and spatially variable plate convergence rates for all slip/rigidity model combinations, and facilitates partial correction of model-specific biases (identified via DART-buoy testing). The modelled magnitude exceedance-rates are tested by comparison with rates derived from long-term historical and paleoseismic data and alternative moment-conservation techniques, demonstrating the robustness of our approach. The tsunami hazard offshore of Australia is found to be insensitive to the choice of rigidity model, but significantly affected by the choice of slip model. The fixed-area-uniform-slip model produces lower hazard than the other slip models. Bias adjustment of the variable-area-uniform-slip model produces a strong preference for `compact' scenarios, which compensates for a lack of slip heterogeneity. Thus, both heterogeneous-slip and variable-area-uniform-slip models induce similar far-field tsunami hazard.

  • On 23 March 2012, at 09:25 UTC, an Mw 5.4 earthquake occurred in the eastern Musgrave Ranges of north-central South Australia, near the community of Ernabella (Pukatja). Several small communities in this remote part of central Australia reported the tremor, but there were no reports of injury or significant damage. This was the largest earthquake recorded on mainland Australia in the past 15 years and resulted in the formation of a 1.6 km long surface deformation zone that included reverse-fault scarps with a maximum vertical displacement of more than 0.5 m, extensive ground cracking, and numerous rock falls. The earthquake occurred in non-extended stable continental region (SCR) cratonic crust, more than 1900 km from the nearest plate boundary. Surface deformation from the Ernabella earthquake provides additional constraint on relations of surface-rupture length to earthquake magnitude. Such relations aid in interpreting Australia’s rich record of prehistoric seismicity and contribute to improved estimates of SCR seismic hazard worldwide. Based upon an analysis of new and reinterpretation of existing surface-rupture length data, faults in non-extended stable cratonic Australia appear to produce longer surface ruptures (for earthquakes larger than Mw ∼ 6:5) than rupture lengths estimated using existing moment-to rupture length scaling relations. The implication is that the estimated maximum, or characteristic, magnitude of paleoearthquakes in such settings may be overestimated where the estimate is based only on the length of the prehistoric fault scarp.

  • Many mapped faults in the south-eastern highlands of New South Wales and Victoria are associated with apparently youthful topographic ranges, suggesting that active faulting may have played a role in shaping the modern landscape. This has been demonstrated to be the case for the Lake George Fault, ~25 km east of Canberra. The age of fluvial gravels displaced across the fault indicates that relief generation of approximately 250 m has occurred in the last ca. 4 Myr. This data implies a large average slip rate by stable continental region standards (~90 m/Myr assuming a 45 degree dipping fault), and begs the question of whether other faults associated with relief in the region support comparable activity rates. Preliminary results on the age of strath terraces on the Murrumbidgee River proximal to the Murrumbidgee Fault are consistent with tens of metres of fault activity in the last ca. 200 kyr. Further south, significant thicknesses of river gravels are over-thrust by basement rocks across the Tawonga Fault and Khancoban-Yellow Bog Fault. While these sediments remain undated, prominent knick-points in the longitudinal profiles of streams crossing these faults suggest Quaternary activity commensurate with that on the Lake George Fault. More than a dozen nearby faults with similar relief are uncharacterised. Recent seismic hazard assessments for large infrastructure projects concluded that the extant paleoseismic information is insufficient to meaningfully characterise the hazard relating to regional faults in the south-eastern highlands, despite the potential for large earthquakes alluded to above. While fault locations and extents remain inconsistent across scales of geologic mapping, and active fault lengths and slip rates remain largely unquantified, the same conclusion may be drawn for other scales of seismic hazard assessment.

  • Tropical cyclone return period wind hazard layers developed using the Tropical Cyclone Risk Model. The hazard layers are derived from a catalogue of synthetic tropical cyclone events representing 10000 years of activity. Annual maxima are evaluated from the catalogue and used to fit a generalised extreme value distribution at each grid point.

  • Tsunamis are unpredictable and infrequent but potentially large impact natural disasters. To prepare, mitigate and prevent losses from tsunamis, probabilistic hazard and risk analysis methods have been developed and have proved useful. However, large gaps and uncertainties still exist and many steps in the assessment methods lack information, theoretical foundation, or commonly accepted methods. Moreover, applied methods have very different levels of maturity, from already advanced probabilistic tsunami hazard analysis for earthquake sources, to less mature probabilistic risk analysis. In this review we give an overview of the current state of probabilistic tsunami hazard and risk analysis. Identifying research gaps, we offer suggestions for future research directions. An extensive literature list allows for branching into diverse aspects of this scientific approach. Appeared online in Front. Earth Sci., 29 April 2021

  • The NEAM Tsunami Hazard Model 2018 (NEAMTHM18) is a probabilistic hazard model for tsunamis generated by earthquakes. It covers the coastlines of the North-eastern Atlantic, the Mediterranean, and connected seas (NEAM). NEAMTHM18 was designed as a three-phase project. The first two phases were dedicated to the model development and hazard calculations, following a formalized decision-making process based on a multiple-expert protocol. The third phase was dedicated to documentation and dissemination. The hazard assessment workflow was structured in Steps and Levels. There are four Steps: Step-1) probabilistic earthquake model; Step-2) tsunami generation and modeling in deep water; Step-3) shoaling and inundation; Step-4) hazard aggregation and uncertainty quantification. Each Step includes a different number of Levels. Level-0 always describes the input data; the other Levels describe the intermediate results needed to proceed from one Step to another. Alternative datasets and models were considered in the implementation. The epistemic hazard uncertainty was quantified through an ensemble modeling technique accounting for alternative models’ weights and yielding a distribution of hazard curves represented by the mean and various percentiles. Hazard curves were calculated at 2,343 Points of Interest (POI) distributed at an average spacing of ∼20 km. Precalculated probability maps for five maximum inundation heights (MIH) and hazard intensity maps for five average return periods (ARP) were produced from hazard curves. In the entire NEAM Region, MIHs of several meters are rare but not impossible. Considering a 2% probability of exceedance in 50 years (ARP≈2,475 years), the POIs with MIH >5 m are fewer than 1% and are all in the Mediterranean on Libya, Egypt, Cyprus, and Greece coasts. In the North-East Atlantic, POIs with MIH >3 m are on the coasts of Mauritania and Gulf of Cadiz. Overall, 30% of the POIs have MIH >1 m. NEAMTHM18 results and documentation are available through the TSUMAPS-NEAM project website (http://www.tsumaps-neam.eu/), featuring an interactive web mapper. Although the NEAMTHM18 cannot substitute in-depth analyses at local scales, it represents the first action to start local and more detailed hazard and risk assessments and contributes to designing evacuation maps for tsunami early warning. Appeared online in Front. Earth Sci., 05 March 2021.

  • PTHA18 estimates the frequency with which tsunamis of any given size occur in deep waters around the Australian coastline. To do this it simulates hundreds of thousands of possible tsunami scenarios from key earthquake sources in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and models the frequency with which these occur.

  • The 2018 Probabilistic Tsunami Hazard Assessmetn (PTHA18) outputs are can be accessed following the README instructions here: https://github.com/GeoscienceAustralia/ptha/tree/master/ptha_access

  • In 2018, Geoscience Australia updated and released the Probabilistic Tsunami Hazard Assessment (PTHA), which outlines the tsunami hazard for all of Australia and its offshore territories.