Projects per year
Academic mission statement: My research group develops statistical and numerical models to improve the assessment of seismic hazard and risk, and thereby reducing 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 often 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. 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.
Many of my contributions have led to improved ground-motion models. During my PhD I authored a report summarizing all models published worldwide since the 1960s. In the two decades since, I have updated this report many times and it is used globally in many research (e.g., Global Earthquake Model), governmental (e.g., national seismic hazard maps) and commercial (e.g., nuclear projects) studies. This compendium was the basis of my 2003 and 2016 Earth-Science Reviews articles that provide comprehensive and critical reviews of empirical models. In 2005 I co-authored a pair of articles that provided state-of-the-art horizontal and vertical models for Europe and the Middle East. In 2014 I led an initiative to develop an updated set of models for Europe and the Middle East using a variety of techniques. In 2013 I led the development of the first model for the prediction of ground motions from geothermally-induced earthquakes, which is used regularly in hazard assessments for induced seismicity. Recently I pioneered the use of backbone ground-motion models for hazard mapping in Europe. Within the TURNkey project I led various research studies on Operational Earthquake Forecasting, which are summarised in this LinkedIn article.
About a decade ago I led the first implementation in Europe of the risk-targeting approach for the development of seismic building codes. This work has inspired similar work in many countries, and led to the first set of consistent fragility functions for risk-targeting ever published. Through a PhD project, we recently put this work on a firmer theoretical basis and extended it towards design using life-cycle costs and for insurance in articles in 2019, 2020 and 2021. Again, this is inspiring efforts by many other researchers.
I am regularly invited as a ground-motion expert in flagship seismic hazard assessments, such as for Hinkley Point C, the first UK nuclear power plant to successfully pass through the regulatory approval process since the 1990s, and to sit on international peer review panels of such assessments, e.g. for the Groningen gas field (The Netherlands), and chairing the 12-member international scientific committee overseeing the research undertaken in the SIGMA-2 project for EDF (France). These roles have inspired much of my research over the past decade as well as leading directly to some landmark publications, e.g. 2016 International Atomic Energy Agency guidelines and two articles on the Hinkley Point C seismic hazard assessment.
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)
- Time-dependent seismic hazard assessment (e.g. Azarbakht et al, 2022)
- 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)
- Earthquake insurance (e.g. Gkimprixis et al., 2021)
- Decision-making using multiple criteria (e.g. Azarbakht et al., 2021)
- 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.
2021 Level 3 Award in Leadership and Management, ILM, The City and Guilds of London Institute, UK.
Main administrative roles:
- Department's Deputy Director of Internationalisation
- Department's Director for International Joint Education Programme with Yunnan University (about 100 students per year with a target of 25 transferring to Strathclyde in Year 4)
Main teaching roles:
- Engineering Mathematics (Statistics and Probability, and Computer Programming using Python), Year 3, 20 credits/10 ECTS, Semesters 1 and 2 (sole lecturer), 80 to 100 students per year
- Structural Dynamics (part of a Graduate Apprenticeship class), Year 4, 5 credits/2.5 ECTS, Term 3, 15 to 20 students per year
Main student supervisory roles:
- Individual Project, Year 4, 30 credits/15 ECTS, Semesters 1 and 2 (project advisor), 3 or 4 students per year. In addition, I run individual statistics clinics (on average 5 students per year
- MSc dissertation, 60 credits/30 ECTS, Summer period (project advisor), 2 or 3 students per year
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 apply my skills in practice, e.g. as an expert within seismic hazard assessments for high-value infrastructure. I teach classes on statistics and probability, and computer programming. I am the department's deputy director for internationalisation.
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. For example, 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 for more information. A summary on the importance of my research for earthquake risk reduction can be read on Science Trends, an overview of this topic from 2022 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, which is part of a collaboration with Aon Impact Forecasting. A submitted paper on assessing the significance and importance of differences amongst seismic hazard results for the same location is open for discussion here.
Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in research or knowledge exchange (e.g. consultancy or Knowledge Exchange Partnerships) collaborations. My two-page curriculum vitae/resume is available here. 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 many 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 email 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
Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals
In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):
Honorary Recognised Supervisor, University of Liverpool
1 Sept 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
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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years
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Turchetti, F., Tubaldi, E., Douglas, J., Zanini, M. & Dall’Asta, A., 15 Sept 2023, p. 1-10. 10 p.
Research output: Contribution to conference › Paper › peer-reviewOpen AccessFile2 Downloads (Pure)
Douglas, J., Strasser, F. O., Aldama-Bustos, G., Tallett-Williams, S., Davi, M. & Tromans, I. J., 14 Sept 2023. 10 p.
Research output: Contribution to conference › Paper › peer-reviewOpen AccessFile9 Downloads (Pure)
Celebrating Innovation and Resilience at Strathclyde: Awards and Examples of Good Practice During the COVID Pandemic (2020/21)
Douglas, John (Recipient), Nov 2021
Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)