GEM TOPIQS Newsletter Issue No.25 December 2021  View this email in your browser

Dear GEM Partners and Friends,
I hope that you are all well and getting ready for the cold months. As you know, COVID-19 has proven that it’s not only a serious global health issue, but a social, economic and political one as well. Nonetheless, GEM is hopeful that public health measures and global collaboration will ultimately increase resilience and quality of life for all.

On behalf of GEM and the Governing Board members, I’d like to thank all of our partners and collaborators for making our December virtual meeting fruitful and productive. We hope to see you all in June next year in Pavia.

Our Top Story is an award from EERI for GEM’s ‘Development of a Global Seismic Risk Model’ paper. Authored by Vitor Silva et al., it has been awarded the Outstanding Earthquake Spectra Paper for 2020. More on this in the Top Story section below.

The InFocus section features highlights from GEM’s Strategic Plan 2030 outlining the role GEM will play as the risk landscape and associated demand evolve between now and 2030. Learn more in the InFocus section below.

We are happy to announce our partnership with Descartes Underwriting - the largest independent parametric insurance provider. The collaboration with Descartes Underwriting seeks to benefit the global earthquake risk management community while supporting fair and transparent parametric insurance structures. Welcome to the GEM family!

GEM participated in the commemoration of International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction and COP26. On DRR day, GEM renewed its commitment to help achieve the Sendai Framework targets and published its Voluntary Commitment web page on UNDRR’s Sendai Framework portal.

At the COP26, the Global Resilience Index Initiative (GRII) was launched to develop globally consistent, open and reliable risk information aimed at creating a common language of natural catastrophe risk. GEM, as one of the partners, sees the GRII as an opportunity to provide open, next-generation risk analytics in support of earthquake and climate change financial decision making.

During this period, GEM made its South Africa model and Global Simplified Hazard data available on Nasdaq Risk Modelling Catastrophe platform and Oasis Hub respectively. GEM will also release an updated version of the Africa exposure datasets for public good purposes early next year, more on what's new with the 2021 version below.

This issue includes news 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 released a new engine version including its complementary tool Integrated Risk Modelling Toolkit (IRMTK) QGIS plugin. 
Lastly, we’ve rounded up some interesting topics in this special edition of 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 and happy holidays,

John Schneider
Secretary General
GEM Foundation, Pavia, Italy

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EERI Award
Vitor Silva et al. receive the 2020 Outstanding Paper Award for Development of a Global Seismic Risk Model from EERI

Full article
The Development of a Global Seismic Risk Model was a mammoth undertaking that involved hundreds of people and for the first time presented a detailed view of seismic risk at the global scale. For some developing countries, this was the first time that a seismic risk map was produced, and the associated country profiles are being used by the local authorities. | Read More >>
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GEM Updates
GEM and Descartes Underwriting announce partnership aiming to revolutionize parametric approach to earthquake risk
The collaboration aims to accelerate the ‘data to resilience’ continuum by leveraging the state-of-the-art technology behind Descartes’ parametric insurance solutions and GEM’s open, transparent and collaborative... | Read more >>
GEM to release updated Africa Exposure Datasets

GEM is set to release an updated version of the Africa Exposure datasets, which will be made available soon on GEM’s website. The 2021 version includes a major revision of residential, commercial and industrial exposure... | Read more >>
Hazard Information Profiles Launched

This new supplement to the UNDRR-ISC Hazard Definition & Classification Review-Technical Report provides hazard information profiles (HIPs) for 302 hazards of concern for disaster risk reduction efforts... | Read more >>
Local solutions to global problems: reducing disaster risk through collaboration and openness

GEM’s work over the past decade in developing countries has accelerated the assessment of risk and incorporation of risk-based decisions into planning and sustainable development by merging the interests of public | Read more >>
GEM renews its commitment to help implement the Sendai Framework targets

GEM launched its Sendai Framework Voluntary Commitment page during this year’s International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction celebration. With the launch, GEM renewed its commitment to help implement the Sendai ... | Read more >>
COP26 Willis Resilience Hub and launch of the Global Resilience Index Initiative

The event organized by Willis aimed to promote the benefits of public and private sector collaboration in the development and augmentation of data and models towards specific end user goals, including those aligned to... | Read more >>
ImageCat Inhance Data Partner Technical webinar

On November 4th, GEM presented an overview of GEM's earthquake hazard and risk models, with a focus on earthquake hazard and risk data that is being made available through Inhance... Read | Watch >>
Nasdaq Risk Modelling for Catastrophes London Market event

On September 16th, Nasdaq featured a video of John Schneider presenting GEM’s open, transparent and collaborative modeling approach, not-for-profit status and global capabilities in earthquake modelling... ReadWatch >>
In Focus
GEM Strategic Plan and Roadmap
What role will GEM play as the risk landscape and associated demand evolve between now and 2030?

GEM’s strategy and roadmap to 2030 is underpinned by the global drivers for disaster risk reduction and sustainability - namely the Sendai Framework, the Paris Agreement on climate change, and the Sustainable Development Goals – and by its four core values: openness, collaboration, public good and credibility. GEM’s approach is further placed in the context of the evolution of the science and technology of risk modelling and user needs to address systemic and cascading risks for multi-hazards... | Read more >>

OpenQuake Engine 3.12
The OpenQuake Engine 3.12 features optimization and enhancement of the event-based risk and damage calculators and a full rewrite of the GMPE library plus other new features and improvements.

Please see the What’s New page for a detailed summary of the recent changes to the OpenQuake Engine.

Important note
Before upgrading to the new release, export any outputs of interest, since exporting an output computed with an older version of the engine may result in an error. Generally, it is 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 can remain with the Long-Term Support Release, version 3.11.
How to Support GEM
GEM Products Availability

South Africa and Colombia models on Nasdaq Risk Catastrophe Modelling platform
The GEM Colombia model is based upon GEM’s regional model for South America first developed from 2013 to 2015 within the South America Risk Assessment (SARA) project funded by the Swiss Re Foundation and updated in 2018. This model has been further improved with local information, such as local construction practices, replacement costs and level of enforcement of the seismic regulations.

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. The risk model may be used to assess potential financial losses to commercial, industrial and residential buildings due to earthquake ground shaking.  For more details, visit the Nasdaq-GEM page.

Global Simplified Earthquake Hazard Data on Oasis Hub 
GEM’s global simplified earthquake hazard map is now available on Oasis Hub. The Simplified map is a version of the full Global Earthquake Hazard Map intended for applications where quantitative analysis of hazard or risk is not required.

For more details, visit Oasis Hub. Download the brochure here.
Get Involved

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:
News Briefs
Nasdaq Risk Modelling for Catastrophes London Market event
On September 16th, Nasdaq featured a video of John Schneider presenting GEM’s open, transparent and collaborative modeling approach, not-for-profit status and global capabilities in earthquake modelling.  John also presented models that were already available in Oasis format and the work done to ensure the model results, global maps and the underlying models and databases utilized the best available and publicly accessible information, including from hundreds of local and regional experts. 

Watch the video

More information about GEM models available on the platform at:

2nd  International Virtual Workshop on Global Seismology & Tectonics 
In September, GEM’s Kendra Johnson, Shreyasvi Chandrasekhar and Marco Pagani participated in the 2nd International Virtual Workshop on Global Seismology and Tectonics (IVWGST‐2021).

Kendra presented an Introduction to Probabilistic Seismic Hazard Analysis (PSHA) on September 23rd, and

Probabilistic Seismic Hazard Analysis (PSHA) input model on September 24th with Shreyasvi.

Marco presented an Introduction to the OpenQuake Engine on September 28th.

The lecture sessions aim to impart important information on emergent and impending topics of Seismology and Tectonics,  involving case studies from seismically active zones of the world. The Webinar Series, held from 20-30 September 2021 was organized by the Geoscience & Technology Division North East Institute of Science & Technology (Council of Scientific & Industrial Research) Jorhat, Assam, India.

Participants came from diverse geoscience disciplines and institutes across the world, including the United States Geological Survey, Norwegian Seismic Array (NORSAR), National Center for Seismology, Geological Survey of India, Wadia  Institute of Himalayan Geology, CSIR-National Geophysical Research Institute, CSIR – North East Institute of Science and  Technology, University of Bristol, University of Malta, Australian National University, Tohoku University, King Abdullah University,  University of Ljubljana, Boston College, Indian Institute of Technology – Guwahati and National Institute of Technology, Agartala, India.

World Conference on Earthquake Engineering (17WCEE)
At the 17th World Conference on Earthquake Engineering (17WCEE) held on September 28th , Vitor Silva presented GEM and participated in the special session on safer and earthquake-resistant housing organized by EERI and IAEE's World Housing Encyclopedia.

The session featured a panel discussion and five other presentations from Svetlana Brzev (Univ of BC), Amit Kumar (AKAH), Manuel A. Lopez Menjivar (Univ de El Salvador), Lars Abrahamczyk (Bauhaus-Univ Weimar) and Dominic Lang (NGI).

EPICentre University College London webinar 
On September 25th , GEM's Vitor Silva and Anirudh Rao participated in an EPICentre UCL webinar. They presented the use of rapid earthquake damage evaluation based on earth observation data and machine learning. They concluded that synthetic aperture radar (SAR)-derived damage proxy maps (DPMs) can form a valuable input for a rapid post-earthquake damage assessment framework, and that combining optical-EO imagery and SAR in a workflow could improve prediction accuracy in the future. Watch the recording at

ImageCat Inhance Data Partner Technical webinar
On November 4th, GEM presented an overview of GEM's earthquake hazard and risk models, with a focus on earthquake hazard and risk data that is being made available through Inhance. John Schneider provided a brief introduction to GEM and its collaborative and open approach to building models for the disaster risk reduction community. Marco Pagani described how the global mosaic of hazard models was developed and described the various layers of hazard information that are available. Vitor Silva gave an overview of GEM's global risk model - comprising hazard, exposure and vulnerability layers - and described the exposure and loss information that is available through Inhance.

Watch the recording here.
More information at

European Forum for Disaster Risk Reduction: How can science and technology help us in better assessing disaster impacts?
On November 26th, Vitor Silva presented the ‘Common terminology for exposure and vulnerability data applied to disaster loss data’ at this year’s virtual European Forum for Disaster Risk Reduction. The presentation was part of the topic “How can science and technology help us in better assessing disaster impacts?”. Vitor emphasized that defining a common taxonomy would enhance the standardization and the interoperability of disaster risk reduction datasets avoiding redundant and expensive data collection activities. Vitor further added that this common taxonomy could also be used to collect and store data from past events. The event was held from 24 - 26 November in Matosinhos, Portugal, organised by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction - Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia; Portuguese National Authority for Civil Protection; and European Commission Council of Europe.

GEM Governing Board meeting
The GEM Secretariat successfully held the Governing Board meeting on 29 November and from 2-3 December 2021. The meeting, held virtually via Zoom, was highlighted by the presentation of the GEM Strategic Plan and Roadmap to 2030 (more about the Strategic Plan and Roadmap to 2030 in the InFocus section), GEM accomplishments over the last six months and updates from GEM partners and collaborators. The Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) also formally awarded the Outstanding Earthquake Spectra Paper for 2020 to GEM during the meeting (more on this story in the Top Story section). 

GEM staff movement
Our heartfelt thanks to Robin Gee for her contributions to GEM and we wish her continued success at Partner Re, where she will liaise with GEM as a GEM sponsor. Robin was a member of the Hazard Team for more than five years. She will be replaced by Manuela Villani as a hazard modeller. Manuela comes to GEM as the earthquake hazard team leader at Arup in London, where she will continue to work on a part time basis. Manuela joined the hazard team in November. Welcome to the family Manuela!
Publications from GEM, Partners and OQ users
Seismic vulnerability modelling of building portfolios using artificial neural networks
GEM’s Petros Kalakonas and Vitor Silva explore how the incorporation of machine learning (ML) algorithms in earthquake engineering can improve existing methodologies and enable new frameworks to solve complex problems. The study uses artificial neural networks (ANNs) for the derivation of seismic vulnerability models for building portfolios.

Significant Seismic Risk Potential from Buried Faults Beneath Almaty City, Kazakhstan, Revealed From High-Resolution Satellite DEMs
The paper explores the seismic hazard and risk for Almaty from specific earthquake scenarios by running three historical-based earthquake scenarios on the current population and four hypothetical scenarios for near-field faulting using high-resolution satellite data to make elevation models across Almaty, Kazakhstan, and identify faults from small changes in the height of the surface. The authors, using the OpenQuake engine,  then simulated the risk to Almaty for a number of specific, defined earthquakes and computed the damage (number of buildings with damage) and losses (fatalities and economic cost) for each of these scenarios.

Regional based exposure models to account for local building typologies
The study, which references several GEM peer-reviewed papers, shows that the analysis of local building typologies may strongly impact on the evaluation of the seismic risk at territorial scale. To improve the exposure modelling at regional scale, the study investigates the variability of masonry building typologies distribution, and proposes a methodology to recalibrate the exposure models at regional scale and evaluates the influence of the improved characterization of regional vulnerability on damage and risk assessment.

Hazard Information Profiles: supplement to the UNDRR ISC Hazard Definition Classification Review Technical Report
The report provides hazard information profiles for 302 hazards of concern for disaster risk reduction efforts. The report and accompanying Hazard Information Profiles (HIPs) are the result of the collaboration of hundreds of scientists globally. GEM, represented by John Schneider in the Technical Working group, provided the HIPs for earthquakes and associated or triggered hazards authored by GEM hazard scientists Richard Styron, Kendra Johnson and Robin Gee.
GEM in the News!
Resilient finance: Closing the protection gap against disaster risk
A blog discussing the size of costs and potential funding gap EU governments might face in the future mentioned the use of probabilistic catastrophe risk models by JBA Risk Management (JBA) for floods and by the Global Earthquake Model Foundation (GEM) for earthquakes in combination with disaster risk finance and economic modeling.

ImageCat and Global Earthquake Model (GEM) partnership provides efficient access to GEM's global seismic hazard and risk information
ImageCat and GEM announce the availability of GEM's seismic hazard and risk products through ImageCat's multi-hazard risk management decision support platforms Inhance® and FACFinder™. Outputs of GEM's global earthquake hazard and risk models are already available in these platforms and provide geospatial information layers for insurance and risk management clients to quickly assess their relative earthquake risks.

Data-driven modeling reveals the Western dominance of global public interest in earthquakes
Using the Global Earthquake Model (GEM)-Seismic Hazard Map (Pagani et al., 2018), the study finds that the highest public interest emerges in countries characterized by a low seismic hazard. Thus, Western nations such as Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, France, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, can drive the dynamics of global public interest in earthquakes despite their distance from the epicenters. This Western dominance of global public interest in earthquakes, the authors say,  is likely responsible for the unequal attention to earthquakes occurring in developing vs. developed nations.
Special Issue: Advances in machine learning for natural hazards risk assessment
The Global Earthquake Model (GEM) Foundation in collaboration with the Nanyang Technological University of Singapore, the University of Twente in the Netherlands and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) is supporting a Special Issue in the Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences Journal with a release date in the fall of 2022. Download the brochure below for more details.
Download PDF
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.
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