Nomogram to help explain probabilistic seismic hazard

John Douglas, Laurentiu Danciu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
36 Downloads (Pure)


Nomograms are an easy-to-use and visually-attractive graphical tool to solve for any of the variables within an often complex equation. In seismology the most well-known nomogram is a three-parallel-scale graphic for the calculation of local magnitude given the epicentral distance and trace amplitude. Until the advent of computers, nomograms were often employed by engineers and scientists in many fields as they provide a means for rapid and accurate calculations as well as helping the user understand the sensitivity of the final results to the input parameters. It is this aid to understanding that remains a key attraction of these graphical tools, which are now rarely seen (although they remain common in some fields of medicine where they are used for rapid screening and estimating risks).
In this Research Letter we present a nomogram summarising the results of simple probabilistic seismic hazard assessments (PSHAs) for peak ground acceleration and elastic response spectral acceleration for a structural period of 1s and return periods from 100 to 2500 years, where the effects of the activity rate and the slope of the Gutenberg-Richter relation are captured. We believe that this nomogram has considerable educational benefit for engineering seismology students, decision makers and other non-expert users of results of PSHAs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221–228
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Seismology
Issue number1
Early online date8 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 29 Feb 2020


  • seismic hazard
  • earthquake
  • probabilistic seismic hazard assessment
  • nomogram
  • educational


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