GEM TOPIQS Newsletter Issue No.24 August 2021  View this email in your browser

Dear GEM Partners and Friends,

I hope that you all found some time to enjoy summer this year in spite of the world’s ongoing battle with the different variants of COVID-19. We continue to call on all nations to work together in finding a way to manage the spread of the virus through sharing of critical COVID-19 health information and through sharing of vaccines especially in developing countries.

We extend our condolences to everyone affected by the devastating M7.2 earthquake that struck the Tiburon Peninsula of Haiti on 14 August, leaving more than 2,200 people dead and at least 130,000 homes damaged or destroyed. GEM’s open earthquake hazard and risk information for Haiti may be useful in assessing requirements for reconstruction and other risk reduction efforts.

Top Story in this issue is the successful completion of the TREQ Project webinar participated by 240+ individuals from around the globe. The webinar presented the progress of the urban earthquake hazard and risk assessments, and capacity development efforts in Quito (Ecuador), Cali (Colombia) and Santiago de los Caballeros (Dominican Republic) via Zoom. More in the Top Story section below.

InFocus section features GEM’s recently released toolkit for vulnerability analysis. The toolkit is an open‑source platform compatible with commonly used earthquake engineering software such as OpenQuake and OpenSees. A unique feature of the toolkit is the integration in a single environment of all phases of seismic vulnerability assessment. Download the toolkit and corresponding paper below and feel free to give us feedback.

We are happy to announce that a GEM sponsor-supported project to develop an
earthquake loss model for China is currently underway. The model will be converted into Oasis Loss Modeling Framework (LMF) and AIR Touchstone formats. The final model will carry GEM’s view of risk. We would also like to invite you to visit GEM's new Get Involved page to learn how you can support our projects and programs.

We are welcoming the recent renewal of
Willis Towers Watson - Willis Research Network as a Private Sponsor. Willis has signed a new 3-year agreement. The partnership aims to further develop and promote better understanding of earthquake risk through research and application of science.

This issue also includes n
ews briefs from GEM’s participation in various international virtual conferences and events on loss models, earthquake risk assessment, and global challenges in earthquake risk and catastrophe modelling.

The OpenQuake development team is working on a new version including its complementary tool Integrated Risk Modelling Toolkit (IRMTK) QGIS plugin to be released on September 6th. Watch out for further announcements (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn).

In the meantime, you can check below an overview of GEM’s
training program for the OpenQuake Engine software.

Lastly, we’ve rounded up some interesting topics in the
Around the Internet section for your reading pleasure.
We value your opinion so please send us your suggestions and feedback to help us improve our next issues.
Wishing good health to all,

John Schneider
Secretary General
GEM Foundation, Pavia, Italy

Forward to a friend


TREQ Project
Understanding seismic risk through capacity development and knowledge sharing webinar draws hundreds of participants from around the world

Full article
The Global Earthquake Model (GEM) Foundation TREQ Project, with support from USAID, presented the progress of the urban earthquake hazard and risk assessments, and capacity development efforts in Quito (Ecuador), Cali (Colombia) and Santiago de los Caballeros (Dominican Republic) on July 9th 2021 via Zoom webinar. | Read More >>

TREQ Webinar 2021 Event Page
TREQ Website
Event recording
GEM Updates
GEM and sponsors collaborate to develop an earthquake loss model for China

GEM is developing a financial risk model for earthquakes for China representing GEM Secretariat's view of risk informed by industry expertise and loss and exposure data... | Read more >>
GEM and Willis renew partnership

GEM is pleased to announce that Willis Towers Watson (WTW) has renewed its partnership agreement with GEM. The agreement is a commitment to work together to develop and promote better understanding of earth... | Read more >>
Development of local capacities for risk management, key to sustainable  risk solutions
GEM’s John Schneider, Vitor Silva, Alejandro Calderon and more than 30 other experts, practitioners and authorities from around the world remotely joined the International Seminar on Risk Management & Sustain... | Read more >>
Willis Research Network Conference 2021

On May 19th, GEM Secretary General, John Schneider, participated in the Willis Research Network conference - Celebrating 15 years of Science for Resilience - presenting GEM’s experience in harnessing knowled... | Read more >>
UNDRR GRAF: enhanced and revitalized approach in the midst of a pandemic

Over the past year, with the COVID 19 pandemic demonstrating its devastating impacts on economies and the health and well-being of millions of people worldwide, the UNDRR has developed a revised approach with concrete... | Read more >>
GEM News Briefs: meetings, workshops and conferences

GEM participates regularly in yearly regional and international gatherings that aim to promote and advance earthquake hazard science, earthquake engineering, software development and disaster risk reduction... | Read more >>
South Africa Model release

GEM has completed the development of its earthquake risk model for South Africa into the Oasis Loss Modelling Framework and the AIR Touchstone formats. The model is now available for licensing from the Nasdaq Risk Modelling... | Read More >>
Economics for Disaster Prevention and Preparedness book launch

GEM contributed to this work, notably on earthquakes and exposure analysis, which included estimating seismic risk in 2020 as well as projected exposure estimates for the years 2030, 2040, and 2050... | Read more >>
In Focus
GEM Scientific Tools
GEM releases a new toolkit, an open‑source platform for vulnerability analysis

GEM recently released a new toolkit for vulnerability analysis, an open‑source platform compatible with commonly used earthquake engineering software such as OpenQuake and OpenSees.

A unique feature of the toolkit is the integration in a single environment of all phases of seismic vulnerability assessment. Implemented in the Python programming language, it is freely accessible through a public GitHub repository... | Read more >>

Download the Toolkit
Download the Paper
How to Support GEM
OPENQUAKE Online Workshops

The GEM Foundation offers personalized OpenQuake training workshops. The workshops are the ideal way to get started with OpenQuake tools and to learn the basic concepts of seismic hazard and risk assessment.

The OpenQuake online training is designed for an audience with a diverse background and expertise. Participants learn the main concepts of earthquake risk assessment, along with the basic features of the OpenQuake engine. The training activities are developed for beginner users and are divided into modules that cover different types of calculations with the OpenQuake engine. Participants with advanced knowledge of the topics can also benefit from the flexibility of the format in which the workshops are presented and the experience of the moderators.

Interested? Contact us at for more details on the content of the workshops, duration, number of participants and fees.
Get Involved

GEM is happy to announce its new Get Involved page!

GEM offers flexible mechanisms to enable potential partners to contribute to its ongoing and future work programs. Partners and collaborators can enter into sponsorships, project partnerships and service agreements, and can select the level of engagement based on their needs and requirements.

Learn more about how to become a sponsor, support GEM projects, work with GEM scientists and engineers on various research initiatives, and donate to all or any of the ongoing GEM programs at:
GEM Hazard Team job vacancy
If you are an Earthquake Hazard Modeller with a strong quantitative background and distinct interest in seismic hazard analysis, join us!

GEM offers an excellent multi-cultural working environment and great opportunities!

We hope to hear from you soon!
Apply Now
News Briefs
IDF Summit 2021
GEM joined its partners, the Insurance Development Forum for the inaugural IDF Summit 2021, held on June 7-8. The theme was Building resilience in a riskier world. Global leaders and hundreds of participants from around the world participated in the event. In case you missed it, you can still visit GEM’s dedicated booth @ Knowledge Hub
Governing Board meeting, June 2021
GEM would like to thank all the sponsors and partners for making the first virtual Governing Board meeting of 2021 a great success. The bi-annual meeting was attended by sponsors from public and private sectors, as well associate and project partners. The meeting featured the usual progress reports on GEM Secretariat activities, advances in the development of GEM products, including commercial risk models, and initial progress on the development of a new GEM Strategic Plan for 2021 to 2030.
European Commission and World Bank Dialogue - Economics for Disaster Prevention and Preparedness
is an event that recently released reports from The World Bank and European Commission providing an in-depth look at the economics for disaster, prevention and preparedness in Europe where GEM provided research and analytics support on earthquake risk, exposure and vulnerability. Vitor Silva represented GEM in the dialogue.
COMPDYN: 8th International Conference on Computational Methods in Structural Dynamics and Earthquake Engineering
GEM’s Vitor Silva participated as a panelist in the round table on fragility curves for existing buildings: open challenges in their definition and use for seismic risk analyses. Vitor presented the Global Risk Assessment: mistakes from the past and promises for the future.
GEM at GAGE SAGE 2021 Community Science Workshop
GEM joined the virtual GAGE SAGE 2021 Community Science Workshop on August 16th. GEM’s Catalina Yepes shared GEM’s experiences on the challenges and strategies in training and local collaborations in the International Panel for the Americas.

GAGE, the Geodetic Facility for the Advancement of Geosciences, is a facility funded by the US National Science Foundation and NASA and operated by UNAVCO.  SAGE is operated by the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS).

South Africa Model release
GEM has completed the development of its earthquake risk model for South Africa for the Oasis Loss Modelling Framework and the AIR Touchstone formats. The model is now available for licensing from the Nasdaq Risk Modelling for Catastrophes Service. (Contact Nasdaq and AIR to learn how to license the models). The risk model may be used to assess potential financial losses to commercial, industrial and residential buildings due to earthquake ground shaking.

GEM’s South Africa earthquake risk model was generated using the hazard model for South Africa developed by the South Africa Council for Geoscience as the national hazard model, and for input to South Africa building design regulations. The vulnerability and exposure models and data were developed by GEM and cover the residential, commercial and industrial building stock.

In the commercial models, OpenQuake is used to generate a stochastic set of hazard footprints (i.e., the spatial distribution of ground motion for each scenario event in the stochastic set). The suite of hazard footprints is translated into the Oasis or Touchstone formats, together with the building vulnerability curves to produce ground up losses, which are then fed into the financial module to compute (re)insured losses. Portfolio analyses may be conducted using industry standard occupancy classes.

The original OpenQuake (OQ) version of the South Africa model (hazard, vulnerability and exposure components) is available from GEM under a Creative Commons open license (CC BY-SA). See for licensing and access to the models and data, as well as model documentation.

The OQ version provides a much more detailed view of hazard and risk than the commercial models, but provides risk in terms of ground-up losses (i.e., cost of direct physical damage), not insured losses.
Publications from GEM and Partners
Economics for Disaster Prevention and Preparedness book launch
This report presents an analysis conducted by the World Bank to assess macro-fiscal impacts of earthquakes and floods in European Union (EU) Member States (MS), analyze the financial instruments in place to manage this risk and identify any associated funding gaps. The analysis is underpinned by the outputs of two regionally consistent probabilistic catastrophe risk models, one developed by JBA Risk Management (JBA) for fluvial and surface water flood, and one by the Global Earthquake Model Foundation (GEM) for seismic risk.

The report provides, (i) an indication of future losses for each country; (ii) an indication of each country’s funding gap based upon the information available on national and EU level financial instruments; and (iii) options for consideration to strengthen financial resilience at the EU and the national level. Overall, this report finds that financial instruments to manage disaster risk are limited in most of the countries and at the EU level, despite the devastating impacts disasters pose to welfare, fiscal balance, and more broadly the economy.

“GEM contributed to this work, notably on earthquakes and exposure analysis, which included estimating seismic risk in 2020 as well as projected exposure estimates for the years 2030, 2040, and 2050. The projects exposure layers were used for the assessment of losses for both earthquake and floods with the partner JBA. The probabilistic seismic risk model by GEM was used as inputs to the macro-fiscal and funding gap analysis.” Vitor Silva, GEM Risk Team Coordinator.

“In addition to regional risk assessment, GEM also did two case studies - Seismic risk prevention in Italy and Improvement of education facilities in Europe -  that informed a cost-benefit analysis performed by the World Bank.” Vitor added.

Exposure forecasting for seismic risk estimation: Application to Costa Rica
This study, selected by the Editor-In-Chief of Earthquake Spectra as one of four feature papers for the year, proposes a framework to forecast the spatial distribution of population and residential buildings for the assessment of future disaster risk.

The approach accounts for the number, location, and characteristics of future assets considering sources of aleatory and epistemic uncertainty in several time-dependent variables. The value of the methodology is demonstrated at the urban scale using an earthquake scenario for the Great Metropolitan Area of Costa Rica.

Hundreds of trajectories representing future urban growth were generated using geographically weighted regression and multiple-agent systems. These were converted into exposure models featuring the spatial correlation of urban expansion and the densification of the built environment.

The forecasted earthquake losses indicate a mean increase in the absolute human and economic losses by 2030. However, the trajectory of relative risk is reducing, suggesting that the long-term enforcement of seismic regulations and urban planning are effectively lowering seismic risk in the case of Costa Rica.
GEM in the News!
Experts Eliminate Earthquake-Risk Blind Spots
This article describes a global earthquake risk model developed by FM Global which is based on the GEM model, but presented in terms that are more familiar to the public. The article emphasized how scientists from government, academia and the private sector have joined forces to quantify the risk of earthquakes around the world so everyone, everywhere can better know their risk.

The article was written by Lou Gritzo, former member of the GEM Governing Board and the GEM Sustainability Committee.
Featured Event
Join peers, friends and colleagues from around the globe (in person or virtually) on September 2nd, from 14:00 - 17:00 CEST.

This year’s conference will  focus on how Oasis works in practice, presented by local guest speakers from the insurance market, and how climate change will impact the insurance industry - a panel discussion covering the recent flood events in Europe.
September- November 2021 Events

California-OES Seismic Safety Commission
GEM presentation to the Commission

9 September

OpenQuake Training
6-17 September

AIR European Conference
28 September

24-26 November
Around the Internet
Earthquake, tsunami hazards from subduction zones might be higher than current estimates
Two of the most destructive forces of nature – earthquakes and tsunamis – might be more of a threat than current estimates according to new research conducted by scientists at The University of New Mexico and the Nanyang Technological University titled Slip rate deficit and earthquake potential on shallow megathrusts. The research was published today in Nature Geoscience.

NTU study of ancient corals in Indonesia reveals slowest earthquake ever recorded
A 'slow-motion' earthquake lasting 32 years - the slowest ever recorded - eventually led to the catastrophic 1861 Sumatra earthquake, researchers at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) have found.

Open source earthquake detection technology used in global initiative
Grillo’s sensors, which are based on low-cost, open source hardware designs, are being used as part of a Clinton Global Initiative earthquake early warning project in Puerto Rico.

Electromagnetic anomalies that occur before an earthquake
It has been documented over hundreds of years that various electromagnetic anomalies occur during a few weeks before the occurrence of a large earthquake. These electromagnetic anomalies are variations that appear in telluric current, geomagnetism, electromagnetic waves etc. before the earthquake.

Slope stability model can help prevent landslides to protect communities and save lives
A mathematical model which can predict landslides that occur unexpectedly has been developed by two University of Melbourne scientists, with colleagues from Ground Probe-Orica and the University of Florence.

GPS satellites can provide faster alerts when big earthquakes strike, scientists say
A global GPS-based earthquake monitoring system can provide timelier and more accurate warnings than traditional seismic networks when powerful earthquakes strike, a new study suggests. It could also reduce frequency of false alerts.

Was a humongous Cascadia earthquake just one of many?
An enormous Cascadia earthquake that sent a tsunami all the way to Japan in 1700 may have been one of a sequence of dangerous quakes, instead of a single devastating temblor. The 1700 Cascadia earthquake is known from oral histories of local tribes living in what is today British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and northern California, as well as from geological records of broken rocks and tsunami deposits.

Machine learning aids earthquake risk prediction
The researchers from the University of Texas, Durante and Rathje, developed a machine learning model that predicted the amount of lateral movement that occurred when the Christchurch earthquake caused soil to lose its strength and shift relative to its surroundings.

They trained the model using data related to the peak ground shaking experienced (a trigger for liquefaction), the depth of the water table, the topographic slope, and other factors. In total, more than 7,000 data points from a small area of the city were used for training data — a great improvement, as previous geotechnical machine learning studies had used only 200 data points.

Rethinking predictive analytics for disaster resource allocation
This paper demonstrates the capacity of the Integrated Internal Displacement Population Sampler IIDIPUS code to inform disaster resource allocation on the short to mid-term. The primary aim of IIDIPUS is to estimate human displacement, not damaged assets.

Researchers develop advanced model to improve safety of next-generation reactors
When one of the largest modern earthquakes struck Japan on March 11, 2011, the nuclear reactors at Fukushima-Daiichi automatically shut down, as designed. The emergency systems, which would have helped maintain the necessary cooling of the core, were destroyed by the subsequent tsunami. Because the reactor could no longer cool itself, the core overheated, resulting in a severe nuclear meltdown, the likes of which haven't been seen since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.

A New Approach to Calculate Earthquake Slip Distributions
A trans dimensional, probabilistic approach is more flexible than traditional least squares fits and provides better handling of sharply varying slip distributions.

A better way to forecast megathrust earthquakes and subsequent tsunami events
Megathrust earthquakes have caused some of the most devastating natural disasters in history, but a new model could improve our ability to forecast them.

GeoNet data holds key to securing affordable insurance for New Zealand
Earthquake Commission’s (EQC) ongoing investment in natural hazard science including the world-leading GeoNet platform provides confidence to international reinsurance markets to continue providing cover for New Zealand, writes Fraser Gardiner, Chief Financial Officer at the Earthquake Commission.
Our mailing address is:
GEM Foundation
Via Ferrata 1
Pavia, PV 27100

Add us to your address book

Want to change how you receive these emails?
update your preferences
unsubscribe from this list
Forward to a friend