Estimating Casualties for Large Earthquakes Worldwide Using an Empirical Approach

Open-File Report 2009-1136
By: , and 



We developed an empirical country- and region-specific earthquake vulnerability model to be used as a candidate for post-earthquake fatality estimation by the U.S. Geological Survey's Prompt Assessment of Global Earthquakes for Response (PAGER) system. The earthquake fatality rate is based on past fatal earthquakes (earthquakes causing one or more deaths) in individual countries where at least four fatal earthquakes occurred during the catalog period (since 1973). Because only a few dozen countries have experienced four or more fatal earthquakes since 1973, we propose a new global regionalization scheme based on idealization of countries that are expected to have similar susceptibility to future earthquake losses given the existing building stock, its vulnerability, and other socioeconomic characteristics. The fatality estimates obtained using an empirical country- or region-specific model will be used along with other selected engineering risk-based loss models for generation of automated earthquake alerts. These alerts could potentially benefit the rapid-earthquake-response agencies and governments for better response to reduce earthquake fatalities. Fatality estimates are also useful to stimulate earthquake preparedness planning and disaster mitigation. The proposed model has several advantages as compared with other candidate methods, and the country- or region-specific fatality rates can be readily updated when new data become available.

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Estimating Casualties for Large Earthquakes Worldwide Using an Empirical Approach
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2009-1136
DOI 10.3133/ofr20091136
Edition -
Year Published 2009
Language ENGLISH
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s) Geologic Hazards Team
Description Report: vi, 78 p.; PAGER Implementation of Empirical Model (xls)
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) Y