GEM TOPIQS Newsletter Issue No.28 September 2022  View this email in your browser

Dear GEM Partners and Friends,
I hope all of you are settling into the Spring or Autumn season after an extraordinarily hot and dry summer in Europe and North America, and quite a wet winter in Australia and New Zealand.  We are now in a world living with Covid, the tragedy of war in Ukraine, and the resulting inflationary economic consequences. These factors and the ever-increasing risks we face from climate change, as well as increased exposure and vulnerability worldwide, continue to escalate our risks worldwide.

On June 21st we were reminded of the high earthquake vulnerability in many parts of the world when a M6.0 earthquake in Khost, Afghanistan killed more than 1100 people. Our condolences and best wishes to all affected by this and other disaster events.

In this issue of Topiqs we are pleased to announce a new partnership with Allianz Group, which joined GEM as a Private Governor in June. In In Focus, you will learn about the impact on the three focus communities in Central and South America of the recently completed TREQ Project, funded by USAID.

Peter Pazak is this year’s recipient of the GEM Outstanding Contributor award for his dedicated participation in the OpenQuake user forum and contributions to significant improvements of the OpenQuake software. You will also read about GEM’s progress in collaboration with COMET in the UK and the European METIS project, as well as the latest updates to the OpenQuake Engine.

I would also like to introduce two new GEM employees: Kirsty Bayliss, who joined the Hazard Team as a hazard modeller on 1 September, and Andres Abarca, who will join us later this month as a Product Engineer. Please welcome Kirsty and Andres to the GEM Secretariat team.

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 and peace to all,

John Schneider
Secretary General
GEM Foundation, Pavia, Italy

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Allianz-GEM partnership focuses on global earthquake risk resilience

Allianz Group is one of the world's leading insurers and asset managers
Full article
The Allianz-GEM partnership aims to enhance the understanding of earthquake risk by leveraging Allianz’ experience in multi-peril modelling and the use of data in an insurance context; and GEM’s open, transparent and collaborative approach to earthquake risk analysis at the global, regional, and local levels. Matthias Hackl, Head of Cat Research & Development, Allianz Re, has joined the GEM board as part of the cooperation.
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GEM Updates
Seismic Moment: From Rupture to Recovery

Close to 200 online and in-person participants from 70+ countries joined the International Symposium on Hazard, Risk and Recovery Modelling: Seismic Moment – From Rupture to Recovery. The event, held at the... | Read more >>
COMET/GEM Seismic Hazard Workshop and OpenQuake Training

From June 29th to July 1st, the Centre for the Observation and Modelling of Earthquakes, Volcanoes and Tectonics (COMET) co-hosted a workshop with GEM at the Earth Sciences Department, University of Oxford... | Read more >>
METIS Summer School on Seismic Hazard Analysis

GEM Foundation and Istituto Universitario di Studi Superiori, Pavia successfully completed the METIS project seismic hazard summer school for 20 PhD students and postdocs from various parts of the world held from... | Read more >>
Presentation of the Dominican Republic seismic hazard model

More than 100 people participated in the webinar presentation of the national probabilistic seismic hazard analysis (PSHA) model for the Dominican Republic held on June 14th.  Servicio Geológico Nacional Dominicano... | Read more >>
Meet GEM’s new team members from Costa Rica and United Kingdom

The GEM Secretariat is proud to welcome its newest members: Kirsty Bayliss and Andres Abarca. Kirsty is from Scotland, United Kingdom, while Andres is from Costa Rica. Get to know our newest members! | Read more >>
GEM Governing Board meeting (2-3 June 2022)

After more than two years of remote-only meetings, GEM held the first hybrid-format Governing Board meeting, with 25 partners and 23 staff attending in person, and 29 partners and 7 staff attending remotely... | Read more >>
In Focus
TREQ Project Update
TREQ project delivers results that can substantially contribute to the understanding of earthquake risk at the urban/city levels

After 20 months of project activities, the USAID-supported GEM TREQ project (Training and Communication for Earthquake Risk Assessment) came to a successful conclusion in June 2022. The project worked closely with local partners and scientists to develop the capacity for urban earthquake hazard and risk assessment in Latin America, for the cities of Quito (Ecuador), Cali (Colombia), and Santiago de los Caballeros (Dominican Republic) ...

Read the full press release

Download the project outputs
Special Feature
Strengthening Open Catastrophe Modelling
Peter Pazak is this year’s recipient of the GEM Outstanding Contributor award. The award is given to individuals who have demonstrated exemplary contributions to GEM’s work. Peter is given this award for his dedicated participation in the OpenQuake user forum and contributions to significant improvements of the OpenQuake software.

Peter is one of the most active members of the OpenQuake user forum with over 100 posts providing assistance and offering friendly advice with clarity and professionalism.

As one of the early adopters of the universal installer for the OpenQuake engine, his feedback contributed to significant improvements to the installer, particularly on the Windows platform. 

Peter has contributed to making the OpenEngine a better tool and has helped make the OpenQuake user forum a more collaborative support tool.

He has worked with GEM and other stakeholders, demonstrating GEM’s core values. For this reason, the GEM Foundation recognised Peter Pažák with the 2022 Outstanding Contribution award. Congratulations Peter!

Read on...
Learn how Peter began his passion for catastrophe modelling
News Briefs 
(view page)
Cities on Volcanoes Conference and Volcanic Risk Scenario assessment using OpenQuake
On June 16th, Catalina Yepes of the Risk Team presented virtually “Towards a Uniform Approach for Risk Assessment due to Volcanoes and Earthquakes at the 11th Cities on Volcanoes (CoV11) hybrid event held from June 12th-17th in Crete, Greece. Her presentation featured how to generate volcanic scenarios in OpenQuake. You can download Cata’s presentation here.

GEM team conducted an online training on July 8th on how to estimate the impact of a hypothetical volcanic eruption using the OpenQuake Engine and run an example to visualise damage and loss maps (economic and human impact). The event was an off shoot of the CoV11 international conference.

X Congreso Nacional de Ingeniería Sísmica Bogota
On Jun17the, GEM and its TREQ project partners (SGC, EAFIT, UNGRD and the Municipality of Cali) presented virtually the paper “‘Exposure Model for Catastrophic Risk Assessment of Santiago de Cali” at the X Congreso Nacional de Ingeniería Sísmica of Colombia, in Bogotá. The presentation featured the methodology and results of the collaborative exposure model developed in collaboration with local stake holders and that is currently being used in the formulation of the risk emergency plan of the city, as a result from the TREQ project.

Launch of Seismica journal
GEM is proud to support the launch of Seismica, an independent journal, designed and built by a global team of researchers to make research in earthquake science and engineering freely available. GEM’s Vitor Silva is a member of the core editorial team. More information at:

3rd European Conference on Earthquake Engineering and SeismologyVitor Silva presented ‘The Evolution of Future Earthquake Risk’ and Luis Martins presented ‘A single deep learning model for portfolio risk analysis’ in the Third European Conference on Earthquake Engineering and Seismology held in Bucharest from 4-9 September 2022.

Vitor’s presentation focused on identifying the drivers of earthquake risk such as global population, economic growth, climate change, and ageing infrastructure, and how risk reduction measures can be designed and implemented to achieve specific risk reduction targets. 

Luis’ presentation focused on a novel end-to-end deep learning algorithm to estimate building and contents losses of a portfolio of assets directly from simple earthquake features (i.e., magnitude, distance to rupture, and ground shaking intensity) and an encoding of the building class.

You can download a copy of the proceedings at
OpenQuake Engine 3.15

The OQ 3.15 is the result of work involving around 320 pull requests featuring many significant optimizations and new features. The major highlights of this version include the optimization of point-like sources resulting in a speedup from 1.5 to 50 times, measured on various hazard models dominated by point-like sources for classical PSHA; fixed the disaggregation calculator issues and added new features; and hazard sources have been extended to support parametric temporal occurrence models in their XML representation.

To download version 3.15, visit:

Important note
Before upgrading to the new release, it is recommended to export previous outputs of interest, since exporting an output computed with an older version of the engine may result in an error. Moreover, it is generally not possible to run a risk calculation starting from a hazard computed with an older version.

Users that do not need to stay updated with the latest developments of the engine may remain with version 3.11, which is being supported as a Long-Term Support Release.
OpenQuake Engine Online Manual

The OpenQuake development team has released an online user’s manual to help support users with updated information about the OQ engine.

The official manual has been converted from latex into reStructuredText format made possible by funding support from USAID. The new manual is now online in HTML format and can be accessed at:

An advanced manual is also available at: It has undergone significant changes. Because of this, old links will no longer work. It is subject to further changes so do check our OpenQuake page for future updates.

Report errors or any kind of issues (including formatting issues) at the following links:
OQ Forum - 
Contact Us -
Publications from GEM, Partners and OQ users
The adolescent years of seismic risk assessment
Vitor Silva reflects on the current position of seismic risk assessment compared to its hazard counterpart, and posits that this discipline is expected to become common practice in disaster risk management, providing decision makers with valuable information not just about the current threat, but also how the impact of future disasters is expected to evolve. The growth of seismic risk assessment into its adult years will allow a more efficient design and implementation of risk mitigation measures. ultimately contributing to its main and only goal: the reduction of the human and economic losses caused by earthquakes.

Exploring benefit cost analysis to support earthquake risk mitigation in Central America
The authors Vitor Silva and Maria Hoyos performed  benefit-cost analysis to identify optimum retrofitting interventions for the two most vulnerable building typologies in Central America, unreinforced masonry and adobe, considering the direct costs due to building damage and the indirect costs associated with the injured and fatalities.

Based on the benefit-cost analyses, for a 50-year time horizon and a 4% discount rate, retrofitting unreinforced masonry and adobe building classes could be economically viable along the western coast of Central America.
A hybrid ML-physical modelling approach for efficient approximation of tsunami waves at the coast for probabilistic tsunami hazard assessment
This work investigates a novel approach combining numerical modelling and machine learning, aimed at developing an efficient procedure that can be used for large scale tsunami hazard and risk studies.

Improving Earthquake Doublet Frequency Predictions by Modified Spatial Trigger Kernels in the Epidemic-Type Aftershock Sequence (ETAS) Mode
New Statistical Perspectives on Bath's Law and Aftershock Productivity. Stochastic Environmental Research and Risk Assessment
GEM in the News!
Safehub blog with John Schneider and Andy Thompson

Safehub Co-Founder and CEO, Andy Thompson, recently sat down with John Schneider, Secretary General of the Global Earthquake Model Foundation (GEM), to discuss the partnership between the two organizations. Safehub currently serves as an Advisor sponsor for GEM.
The Future of Catastrophe Risk Management
The True Value of Building-Specific Data Analytics After an Earthquake

Join Safehub and GEM on October 6th 18:30 CEST | 09:30 Pacific Time for a live webinar to discuss this important topic.
Understanding Risk 2022
UR22 Florianópolis, Brazil 28 November - 02 December 2022 
The Understanding Risk Global Forum (UR22) will be a hybrid event with the main location in Florianopolis, Brazil (in person for 500-700 people), plus smaller “satellite hubs” in other continents and a virtual participation option for all.
Event page:

Oasis Conference
Learn how Oasis works in practice
28 Sep 2022 13:00-17:15 CEST
Location: Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue
Event page:
Around the Internet
The earthquake that changed the course of history
A video by Izabela Cardoso and Fernando Teixeira for BBC Reel examines the profound effect of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake on the world as well as our thinking of how to better understand our surroundings. Considered as the birthdate of seismology, it ushered a paradigm shift - from punishment from God to scientific discourse.

Internal rumblings over Italy’s new seismic map 
Scientists and government officials have been debating for years on whether to approve a crucial tool for preventing earthquake risk.

Why Was Afghanistan’s Magnitude 5.9 Earthquake So Devastating? 
Famed seismologist Lucy Jones explains how building methods and quake dynamics interact—and what to do about the problem.

Grain Shape Influences Liquefaction Of Sand, A Major Earthquake Hazard 
Scientists have found that the shape of sand grains influences the liquefaction of sand, one of the major factors behind the collapse of structures during earthquakes.

Hidden microearthquakes illuminate large earthquake-hosting faults in Oklahoma and Kansas 
Using machine learning to sift through a decade's worth of seismic data, researchers have identified hundreds of thousands of microearthquakes along some previously unknown fault structures in Oklahoma and Kansas.

Complex trans-ridge normal faults controlling large earthquakes 
A study demonstrating how detailed fieldwork, supported by geophysics and innovative data analysis techniques, can unravel unknown faults while giving a novel interpretation of the trans-ridge faults' style in controlling strong earthquakes, moving away from classical interpretations, and providing a helpful approach in similar contexts worldwide.

Engineering Insight: Developing seismic resilience 
Ground Engineering Editorial features Mott MacDonald technical director Barnali Ghosh, an earthquake geotechnical engineering specialist and a visiting professor at the University of Cambridge, to discuss her experiences in developing resilience in seismic design.

Nanoscale observations simplify how scientists describe earthquake movement 
Graduate student Binxin Fu, left, and civil and environmental engineering professor Rosa Espinosa-Marzal used microscopic-scale observations to simplify how scientists describe macroscale earthquake movement.

The cheaper we build our buildings, the more they cost after an earthquake, wildfire or tornado 
Building-code writers, engineers and others frequently tout the benefits of modern building codes. But new buildings only keep us relatively safe; they’re not disaster proof. Why don’t we build better buildings? Because it would cost a little more.

Balloon fleet senses a 7.3 magnitude earthquake from the stratosphere 
Balloons and sensors floating through the stratosphere detect infrasound released into the atmosphere when an earthquake hits. Balloons, 11 meters (36 feet) in diameter and weighing 30 kilograms (66 pounds), can support up to four instruments.

Stratosphere is new to the seismology game; the balloons are mostly helpful with atmospheric activities, which can pick up small, local quakes. However, a fleet of balloons had recently set the bar high by detecting a 7.3 magnitude earthquake in Indonesia.

Mini seismometers in schools aim to help students learn while gathering valuable earthquake data 
More schools on Vancouver Island could soon be getting miniature seismometers that will help students learn about tectonics and also help communities better prepare for earthquakes.

SchoolShake is a new outreach and citizen science program in which researchers with the University of Victoria and Natural Resources Canada will use data from the machines placed in different schools to track small earthquakes and active faults.
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