Projects per year
Academic mission statement: My research group develops statistical and numerical models to improve the assessment of seismic hazard and risk in order to reduce losses due to future earthquakes worldwide.
To evaluate the potential impact of a natural peril (e.g. an earthquake) it is necessary to consider the following three aspects:
- hazard (e.g. how the ground shakes during an earthquake);
- vulnerability (e.g. how a building responds to this shaking); and
- exposure (e.g. how many of these buildings are in the zone of interest).
The combination of these three factors provides an estimate of the risk, which expresses the chance that a certain undesirable event (e.g. building collapse) may occur. It is important to distinguish between the hazard, which cannot be altered, and the risk, which can be reduced (mitigated) by lowering the vulnerability and exposure of the building stock as well as increasing the resilience of the community.
My research aims to improve earthquake risk evaluation for engineering purposes, in particular through the characterisation and, ideally, reduction of uncertainties in seismic hazard assessments. It is important that the hazard be neither over- nor under-estimated. Examples of the latter are dramatically displayed by damage to buildings that were constructed in accordance with the expected ground motion in the region. An over-estimated hazard leads to higher construction costs for seismic resistance, which consumes resources that could be better spent tackling other problems.
My research addresses various UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDG 9 'Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation' and SDG 11 'Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable', as well as the challenges highlighted in the UK Strategy for the Global Challenges Research Fund, in particular 'resilience and action on short-term environmental shocks and long-term environmental change' and 'sustainable cities and communities'. I wrote a crowdsourced brief on these topics in 2015. Concerning these topics, I am currently PI of a project funded by the Frontiers of Development programme on "Investigating approaches to encourage seismic retrofitting in less-developed countries"
I am particularly interested in problems related to hazard and risk assessments for the energy sector. For example, high-importance power facilities such as nuclear power plants must consider the impact of earthquakes (e.g. recent consultancy concerning Hinkley Point C, also see this journal article on the overall approach and this one for details). Another research focus is induced seismicity from projects in the geothermal and oil and gas sectors. Currently, I am a workpackage leader and joint technical lead of the H2020 TURNkey project improving operational earthquake forecasting, earthquake early warning and the rapid response to earthquakes.
As an engineering seismologist, one of my main interests is improving ground-motion prediction, i.e. providing better models of the shaking to expect at a site given a particular earthquake at a certain distance. Such models are a basis of seismic hazard assessment. I maintain a global compendium of published models, which now number many hundreds. An article on capturing epistemic uncertainties within ground-motion models has been published in association with my Theme Lecture at the 16th European Conference on Earthquake Engineering in June 2018. A video briefly summarising this work is also available.
Expertise & Capabilities
- Engineering seismology
- Earthquake ground motion prediction (e.g. Douglas and Edwards, 2016)
- Assessing and modifying ground-motion models (e.g. Brooks et al., 2020)
- Seismic hazard assessment, especially site-specific studies (e.g. Douglas et al., 2014)
- Local site effects, especially for rock sites (e.g. Douglas et al., 2009)
- High-frequency attenuation of ground motions (e.g. Douglas et al., 2010)
- Estimating site response (e.g. Volpini and Douglas, 2019)
- Site classification using proxies (e.g. Lemoine et al., 2012)
- Using macroseismic intensities (e.g. Rey et al., 2018)
- Ground motions from induced seismicity (e.g. Douglas et al., 2013)
- Prediction of ground-motion fields (e.g. Gehl et al., 2017)
- Using ground-motion simulations (e.g. Douglas and Aochi, 2016)
- Assessing spatial correlation of earthquake ground motions (e.g. Schiappapietra and Douglas, 2020)
- Operational Earthquake Forecasting (e.g. Douglas and Azarbakht, 2020)
- Strong-motion databases (e.g. Akkar et al., 2014)
- Processing of strong-motion records (e.g. Douglas and Boore, 2011)
- Earthquake engineering
- Fragility curves (e.g. Ulrich et al., 2014)
- Risk-targeted seismic design (e.g. Douglas and Gkimprixis, 2018)
- Minimum-cost design and cost-benefit analyses (e.g. Gkimprixis et al., 2020)
- Hindcasting earthquake damage (retro-scenarios) (e.g. Douglas et al., 2015)
- Uncertainties in earthquake risk assessments (e.g. Rohmer et al., 2014)
- Traffic light systems for induced seismicity (e.g. Douglas and Aochi, 2014)
- Using earthquake early warning (e.g. Le Guenan et al., 2016)
- Alternative structural models (e.g. Ambraseys and Douglas, 2003)
- Multi-hazard risk assessments (e.g. Douglas, 2007)
- Nomograms (e.g. Douglas and Danciu, 2019)
- Repeat photography (rephoto) (e.g. currently applying method for risk communication in the project NET: New technologies and participatory approaches for disaster resilience)
Academic / Professional qualifications
1998 BSc. Hons Mathematics with Applied Maths/Mathematical Physics, University of London (Imperial College), First Class.
2013 Diplome approfondi de langue française (DALF, Advanced diploma in French), C1 'Effective Operational Proficiency' (61%)
2018 Postgraduate Diploma Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.
- Departmental exchange (Erasmus and international) advisor
- CL329/CL332 Engineering Mathematics (Statistics and Probability), Year 3, 10 credits/5 ECTS, Semester 1 (sole lecturer)
- CL448 Individual Project, Year 4, 30 credits/15 ECTS, Semesters 1 and 2 (project advisor)
- CL944/CL980 MSc dissertation, 60 credits/30 ECTS, Summer period (project advisor)
Welcome to my university webpages.
I am a Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Intelligent Infrastructure within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. My principal research interests are improving hazard and risk evaluations for natural perils, in particular earthquakes (engineering seismology and earthquake engineering). Through various knowledge exchange activities (including consultancies) I seek to apply my skills in practice, e.g. as an expert within seismic hazard assessments for high-value infrastructure. My teaching and administrative responsibilities include being departmental exchange coordinator.
I completed my PhD in engineering seismology in 2001 at Imperial College London, following a BSc. Hons (first class) undergraduate degree in Mathematics also at Imperial College London. Following two and a half years as a post-doctoral researcher (Research Associate) at Imperial, I was a senior engineering seismologist at BRGM (French Geological Survey) from 2004 until 2015 during which time I was involved in research, public service and commercial projects in many aspects of risk evaluation for various natural perils (e.g. I led BRGM's contribution to the multi-risk ThinkHazard! website from the GFDRR). From 2009 to 2014 I was a visiting professor at the Earthquake Engineering Research Centre, University of Iceland.
Please visit the Expertise tab for a list of my research interests and the Research tab, the Teaching tab and the Publications tab to obtain more details. An summary on the importance of my research for earthquake risk reduction can be read on Science Trends, a presentation on my research from 2016 is available for view here and some introductory slides are available for free download from figshare. As example of some research work, an article on the spatial correlation of earthquake ground motions is available here.
Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in research or knowledge exchange (e.g. consultancy or Knowledge Exchange Partnerships) collaborations. I am particularly interested to hear from fully-funded students interested in doing a PhD under my supervision and PhD holders looking to apply for post-doctoral fellowships (e.g. Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowships , Newton International Fellowships or Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellowships). Before contacting me about PhDs please consult this page concerning applications ("How can I apply?" tab) and fees ("Fees & funding tab). Information on potential scholarships is available on this page (select "Postgraduate Research" in the "Level of study" drop-down menu).
Seismic hazard assessment is not solely an academic exercise as it provides estimates of earthquake shaking to be used by engineers and decision-makers for design, retrofit and planning purposes. Consequently, I have been consultant to a large number of projects related to seismic hazard and risk. These have included projects related to nuclear installations in France, Switzerland, Slovenia, South Africa, Turkey and the UK, various projects concerning dams and LNG facilities in north Africa and central and eastern Asia and a project related to induced seismicity in The Netherlands. Please contact me if you are looking for a seismic hazard expert for your project.
Academic / Professional qualifications
Associate Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers
Member of the Society for Earthquake and Civil Engineering Dynamics
Member of the Earthquake Engineering Field Investigation Team
Member of the European Association of Earthquake Engineering
Member of the UK Alliance for Disaster Research
Honorary Recognised Supervisor, University of Liverpool1 Sep 2017 → 31 Aug 2020
- natural hazards
- Risk Assessment
- ground-motion prediction
- civil engineering
- seismic hazard
- review panel
- United Kingdom
- engineering seismology
- induced seismicity
- catastrophe models
- earthquake engineering
- Sustainable Development Goals
- earthquake early warning
- operational earthquake forecasting
13/08/20 → 12/08/21
Towards more Earthquake-resilient Urban Societies through a Multi-sensor-based Information System enabling Earthquake Forecasting, Early Warning and Rapid Response Systems (TURNKEY)
1/06/19 → 31/05/22
Douglas, J., Faenza, L., Felicetta, C., Gallovič, F., Giardini, D., Ktenidou, O-J., Lauciani, V., Manakou, M., Marmureanu, A., Maufroy, E., Michelini, A., Özener, H. & 6 others, , 11 Jan 2021, (Accepted/In press) In: Seismological Research Letters.
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › peer-review
Cost-benefit analyses to assess the potential of Operational Earthquake Forecasting prior to a mainshock in EuropeDouglas, J. & Azarbakht, A., 31 Jan 2021, In: Natural Hazards. 105, 1, p. 293-311 19 p.
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › peer-reviewOpen AccessFile3 Downloads (Pure)
John Douglas (Participant)Sep 2021
Activity: Participating in or organising an event types › Organiser of special symposia
John Douglas (Participant)Sep 2021
Activity: Participating in or organising an event types › Participation in conference