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22-29. Ground-motion modeling and research for the U.S. National Seismic Hazard Model

This research opportunity focuses on developing models for the ground-motion characterization of the U.S. National Seismic Hazard Model (NSHM). The opportunity encompasses basic and applied research on earthquake ground motions with future application to the NSHM. 

Description of the Research Opportunity

The U.S. National Seismic Hazard Model (NSHM) is the seismic hazard analysis for all states and U.S. territories and forms the basis for the seismic provisions of U.S. building codes, as well as other engineering-design requirements, risk assessments, and planning decisions. Development of the NSHM is currently separated into an earthquake rupture forecast, which forecasts the magnitudes, locations, and frequencies of earthquakes, and the ground-motion characterization (GMC), which forecasts the ground shaking, including its uncertainty, for all earthquakes in the rupture forecast. This opportunity addresses diverse research and research products to support the GMC for future national-scale seismic hazards assessments.   

Proposals for this opportunity may address basic or applied research to explain and predict earthquake ground motions, with future application to NSHM or USGS earthquake hazards products. We encourage wide-ranging contributions that make use of observational data, ground-motion and rupture simulations, novel statistical and machine-learning methods, or other approaches. Current questions within this research area include: What are the key factors controlling broadband ground motions and their intrinsic variability? How are ground motions affected by regional velocity structures and can these features be forecast? How can we constrain ground motions from infrequent, but consequential earthquakes (e.g., large-magnitude, close-distance events)? Applied research may address development of regional ground-motion models, development of ensemble models for the treatment of epistemic uncertainty, use of novel methods to produce regional or national-scale models of site parameters or other topics. 

Potential projects for this Research Opportunity include: 

(1) development of new ground-motion models using Bayesian frameworks, (2) machine-learning methods to develop maps of shallow site conditions for Puerto Rico, (3) machine-learning methods to develop directivity adjustments to ground-motion models, (4) developing site and basin response models that are applicable across broad regions, (5) estimating ground-motion time histories at locations between seismic stations, and (6) analysis of simulated ground-motion data to inform regionalized and/or nonergodic GMMs, and/or basin amplification factors. 

Interested applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the Research Advisors prior to formulating a project proposal to discuss current directions and projects within the USGS and ideas for potential projects. 


Proposed Duty Station(s)

Golden, Colorado  


Areas of PhD

Geophysics, seismology, data science or related fields (candidates holding a Ph.D. in other disciplines, but with extensive knowledge and skills relevant to the Research Opportunity may be considered). 



Applicants must meet one of the following qualifications:  Research Geophysicist, Research Civil Engineer, Research Mathematician, Research Statistician, Research Physicist 

(This type of research is performed by those who have backgrounds for the occupations stated above.  However, other titles may be applicable depending on the applicant's background, education, and research proposal. The final classification of the position will be made by the Human Resources specialist.)