Seismic risk assessment and application in the central United States
Seismic risk is a somewhat subjective, but important, concept in earthquake engineering and other related decision-making. Another important concept that is closely related to seismic risk is seismic hazard. Although seismic hazard and seismic risk have often been used interchangeably, they are fundamentally different: seismic hazard describes the natural phenomenon or physical property of an earthquake, whereas seismic risk describes the probability of loss or damage that could be caused by a seismic hazard. The distinction between seismic hazard and seismic risk is of practical significance because measures for seismic hazard mitigation may differ from those for seismic risk reduction. Seismic risk assessment is a complicated process and starts with seismic hazard assessment. Although probabilistic seismic hazard analysis (PSHA) is the most widely used method for seismic hazard assessment, recent studies have found that PSHA is not scientifically valid. Use of PSHA will lead to (1) artifact estimates of seismic risk, (2) misleading use of the annual probability of exccedance (i.e., the probability of exceedance in one year) as a frequency (per year), and (3) numerical creation of extremely high ground motion. An alternative approach, which is similar to those used for flood and wind hazard assessments, has been proposed.