Earthquake Hazards

National Earthquake Prediction Evaluation Council (NEPEC)

The National Earthquake Prediction Evaluation Council (NEPEC) was created in 1980 by legislation reauthorizing the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP).

The Council provides advice and recommendations to the Director of the U.S. Geological Survey on earthquake predictions and related scientific research, in support of the Director’s delegated responsibility under NEHRP to issue timely warnings of potential geologic disasters. The Council’s membership and procedures are compliant with the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). NEPEC meetings are announced on this web site, and also published in the Federal Register in compliance with the notification requirement of section 10(a)(2) of the FACA. However, as stated in P.L. 101-614, the Council shall be exempt from the notification requirement when meeting on an urgent matter.

Recommendations from NEPEC on proper procedures for posing earthquake predictions and testing earthquake prediction methods

NEPEC Charter 2018

Membership

  • Dr. Roland Burgmann, Chair, University of California, Berkeley
  • Dr. Jonathan Godt, Co-chair, ex officio, Acting Senior Science Advisor for Earthquake and Geologic Hazards
    and Acting Coordinator, Earthquake Hazards Program, USGS, Reston, Virginia
  • Dr. Michael Blanpied, Designated Federal Official (DFO), Associate Coordinator, Earthquake Hazards Program, USGS, Reston, Virginia
  • Dr. Gail Atkinson, University of Western Ontario
  • Dr. Clifford Frohlich, University of Texas, Austin
  • Dr. Susan Hough, USGS, Pasadena, CA
  • Dr. Andrew Michael, USGS, Menlo Park, California
  • Dr. Katherine Scharer, USGS, Pasadena, CA
  • Dr. Peter Shearer, University of California, San Diego
  • Dr. John Vidale, University of Southern California

NEPEC Reports

NEPEC Meetings

2019
September 30, 2019, by phone Summary (PDF)

The NEPEC met for three hours by teleconference on September 30, 2019, with prior announcement in the Federal Register. The USGS posed three questions for which the council’s advice is sought: 1) Please clarify or update the council's late-2017 guidance on the use of UCERF3-ETAS and spatial ETAS software, both of which are available in an on-demand mode, (a) for internal considerations in order to inform USGS public statements about domestic earthquake sequences, and (b) as the basis for public releases of numerical or map-based forecast information. 2) Please comment on the roles of NEPEC and CEPEC, and their relationships with each other and with the USGS and Cal OES, in this new era of operational aftershock forecasting. 3) Please suggest topics that would be worthy of in-depth discussion at future NEPEC meetings.

2017
October 16-17, 2017, Berkeley Agenda (PDF) | Questions to NEPEC (PDF)

The NEPEC met in Berkeley, California. The Council received briefings on USGS plans to develop a nationwide aftershock forecasting system that responds to needs expressed by many user groups, and on coordination on the composition and dissemination of operational forecasts in California and Cascadia. Following discussion, the Council developed answers to several questions on these topics that were posed by the USGS, toward delivery of a letter report shortly following the meeting.

2016
September 1, 2016, by phone Agenda (PDF) | Summary (PDF)

In this brief meeting by phone, the Council received updates on the status of pertinent activities of the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program, and approved a statement composed at the request of the USGS, which provides recommendations on the proper posing of earthquake predictions and testing of earthquake prediction methods.

2015
September 2-3, 2015, Dallas, Texas Agenda (PDF) | Summary (PDF)

The NEPEC met at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. The Council discussed operational earthquake forcasting. The topics of discussion included: USGS operational earthquake forcasting priorities, user needs, and Powell Center project plans; USGS development of an operational aftershock forecasting tool; lessons learned from New Zealand and Nepal aftershock forecasting; progress in automated detection of geodetic strain transients; and, development of methods for forecasting and hazard in areas subject to induced seismicity.

2013
November 4-5, 2013, Menlo Park, California Agenda (PDF) | Summary (PDF)

The NEPEC met at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) western headquarters in Menlo Park, California. The Council received briefings on the history and current state of scientific investigations of earthquake processes in and around the San Andreas fault near the town of Parkfield in central California, and engaged in discussion of USGS priorities for instrumentation and scientific investigations in the future. The Council received updates on past topics of discussion, including work with social and behavioral scientists on improving hazard and risk messages; development of improved methods for calculation of short-term aftershock probabilities; USGS collaborative work with the Collaboratory for Study of Earthquake Predictability (CSEP); status of an updated Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast (UCERF3); and on the delivery of near-real-time earthquake information by the National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC).

2012
September 17-18, 2012, Golden, Colorado Agenda (PDF) | Summary (PDF)

The NEPEC met at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) western headquarters in Menlo Park, California. The Council received briefings on the history and current state of scientific investigations of earthquake processes in and around the San Andreas fault near the town of Parkfield in central California, and engaged in discussion of USGS priorities for instrumentation and scientific investigations in the future. The Council received updates on past topics of discussion, including work with social and behavioral scientists on improving hazard and risk messages; development of improved methods for calculation of short-term aftershock probabilities; USGS collaborative work with the Collaboratory for Study of Earthquake Predictability (CSEP); status of an updated Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast (UCERF3); and on the delivery of near-real-time earthquake information by the National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC).

2011
November 14-15, 2011, Seattle, Washington Agenda (PDF)

The NEPEC met on the campus of the University of Washington on November 14 and 15. The Council received briefings on lessons learned from the 2010 Chile and 2011 Japan subduction earthquakes, monitoring and research efforts relating to earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest, research and development relating to earthquake early warning and short-term aftershock forecasting, and recent findings from the study of episodic tremor and slip and from the analysis of various seismic hazards in and around the State of Washington. The Council also received brief updates on the project used to deliver an updated Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast (UCERF3) in summer 2012, and on other topics.

April 16, 2011, Memphis, Tennessee Agenda (PDF)

The NEPEC met at the Crowne Plaza Memphis Downtown on April 16. The Council received a report from the Independent Expert Panel on New Madrid Seismic Zone Earthquake Hazards, a subcommittee charged with commenting on the level of hazard posed by future large earthquakes in the region and on priorities for future research to better constrain that hazard. The Council also received briefings on other topics relating to earthquakes in the central US, on earthquake swarms recently active in Arkansas, on communication of seismic hazard in the Pacific Northwest, on the project used to deliver an updated Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast (UCERF3) in summer 2012, on the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and on other topics.

March 14-15, 2011, Meeting of expert independent panel, Memphis, Tennessee NMSZ Expert Panel Charge and Members (PDF) | Agenda (PDF)

Noting the substantial uncertainties regarding the history and future of large earthquakes in the New Madrid Seismic Zone, in January, 2011 the NEPEC convened an Independent Expert Panel on New Madrid Seismic Zone Earthquake Hazard, and charged that eight-member panel with providing a report commenting on the level of hazard posed by future large earthquakes in the region, and on priorities for future research to better constrain that hazard. The panel met by phone several times in February, March and April, and also held a two-day meeting in Memphis, Tennessee in mid-March, in which they interviewed a number of key experts having different knowledge and perspectives on the issues. The panel plans to release a draft report for public comment on or about Monday, April 4, with comments to be received by email to NMSZpanel@gmail.com no later than Sunday, April 10. The NEPEC plans to receive and review the panel's report at its April 16 meeting (see above).

2010
November 3-4, 2010, Pasadena, California Agenda (PDF)

NEPEC met to review plans and progress related to understanding, forecasting and communicating about earthquake occurrence in California, the Pacific Northwest, and the Central United States. The Council discussed forming subcommittees to focus on: (1) methods for rapidly estimating the probability of a large earthquake following a possible foreshock or during a swarm of seismicity, procedures by which Council findings are to be transmitted to the USGS, and the format and content of earthquake advisory statements that may be composed and delivered at times of heightened concern; (2) earthquake occurrence and forecasting in the Pacific Northwest; (3) the level of earthquake hazard in the Central and Eastern U.S.; and (4) review procedures for the project intended to deliver an updated Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast (UCERF3) in summer 2012.

2009
November 4-5, 2009, Pasadena, California Agenda (PDF) 

On November 4, NEPEC met jointly with the California Earthquake Prediction Evaluation Council (CEPEC), to review methods for rapidly estimating the probability of a large earthquake following a possible foreshock or during a swarm of seismicity, review and discuss procedures by which Council findings are to be transmitted to the USGS and to the California Emergency Management Agency (CalEMA), and discuss the format and content of earthquake advisory statements that may be composed and delivered at times of heightened concern. Findings of an International Commission convened by the Italian government to provide advice on “operational earthquake forecasting” following the damaging L’Aquila earthquake of April 2009 was also presented. The Councils also discussed review procedures for the project intended to deliver an updated Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast (UCERF) in summer 2012. On November 5, NEPEC discussed outcomes of the previous day’s meeting, planned topics to be explored by the Council in future meetings, and received briefings on previous discussion topics, including on scientific issues related to earthquake occurrence in New Madrid Seismic Zone, and an update on the Collaboratory for Study of Earthquake Predictability.

July 2, NEPEC Subcommittee at CEPEC, Pasadena, California Agenda (PDF)

A subcommittee of the NEPEC attended a meeting hosted by the California Earthquake Prediction Evaluation Council (CEPEC), at which attendees examined current understandings of earthquake activity and history, were briefed on new approaches for determining foreshock probabilities, and discussed the crafting of pre-event background scenarios for reference by CEPEC when considering the implications of a potential foreshock or a swarm of small earthquakes.

August 26, NEPEC Subcommittee at CEPEC, Pasadena, California Agenda (PDF)

A subcommittee of the NEPEC attended a meeting hosted by the California Earthquake Prediction Evaluation Council (CEPEC). Attendees reviewed current understandings of earthquake activity, reviewed approaches for calculating earthquake probabilities during an earthquake swarm, began the development of advisory language under various scenarios to present to the Director of CalEMA, and identified ways for CEPEC and NEPEC to more closely coordinate their activities.

2008
September 10-11, Palm Springs, California Agenda (PDF) | Meeting Summary (PDF)

The Council received briefings on the Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast (UCERF2) and relevant activities sponsored by the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC); updates on  the Collaboratory for Study of Earthquake Predictability (CSEP) and on various proposed prediction methodologies; a report from a February, 2008 workshop on episodic tremor slip; and discussed issues related to the content and issuance of earthquake advisories.

2007
May 18, Portland, Oregon Agenda (PDF) | Meeting Summary (PDF)

Meeting focused on the science and hazard implications of episodic seismic tremor and fault creep detected in the Pacific Northwest from northern California to southern British Columbia. The Council received from scientists on the observations and tectonic context, and from emergency managers on the communication of research findings and their policy implications to governments and the public.

2006
Conference call March 4 Call Summary (PDF)

This initial discussion of the newly seated Council included discussions of the reasons that the NEPEC was reestablished, scope of NEPEC activities, history of past NEPEC activities and reports, and potential topics for future briefings, meetings, and work.

May 4-5, Menlo Park, California Agenda (PDF) | Meeting Summary (PDF)

Initial meeting of the reconstituted Council included briefings on the Parkfield earthquake experiment, earthquake prediction research supported by NASA, the Collaboratory for Study of Earthquake Predictability (CSEP), short-term aftershock hazard forecasting, and the Working Group on California Earthquake Probability (WGCEP).

October 16-17, Riverside, California Agenda (PDF) | Meeting Summary (PDF)

The Council received briefings on the Regional Likelihood Methods (RELM) project, the Collaboratory for Study of Earthquake Predictability (CSEP), and the Working Group on California Earthquake Probability (WGCEP).

Conference call  October 25 Call summary (PDF)

The participants discussed options for the Council’s role in the process of developing and reviewing the earthquake rupture forecasts to be delivered by the Working Group on California Earthquake Probabilities (WGCEP)