Earthquakes are a serious threat for many European countries, particularly those around the Mediterranean Sea. In many cities exposed to high earthquake hazard, a substantial proportion of the population still lives in buildings that do not meet modern earthquake-resistant standards. Preventive actions, such as retrofitting of structures, are essential, but they are not sufficient and cannot be applied easily on a large scale. Real-time actions focussing on decreasing the physical vulnerability and exposure of populations are a viable way to reduce earthquake risk.
The primary objective of REAKT is to improve the efficiency of real-time earthquake risk mitigation methods and their capability of protecting structures, infrastructures and populations. REAKT aims to develop methodologies that will enhance the quality of information provided by earthquake forecasting, early warning and real-time vulnerability systems, as well as establishing best practices for how to use all of this information in a unified manner. In order to be used effectively, such information needs to be combined into a fully probabilistic framework, including realistic estimates of the uncertainties involved, that is suitable for decision making in real time. The REAKT consortium draws together most of the main European institutes and research groups, in addition to major non-European institutes, that are working on different aspects of earthquake early warning and probabilistic models of operational forecasting.
The project is divided into 7 scientific work packages that constitute a logical sequence from, at one end, the processes involved in earthquake generation and the physics of short-term seismic changes, to the other, the threatened people. through operational earthquake forecasting, early warning and rapid assessment of damage and vulnerability, decision making and capacity building, and the application of the developed methodologies to 12 strategic test cases.
Optimised real time risk reduction methods to protect people and infrastructure from earthquakes
An EU initiative developed a multifaceted probabilistic system to forecast earthquakes in order to help protect vulnerable European cities, their inhabitants and infrastructures
Many of Europe's cities – especially those with historic centres – could suffer greatly in the event of an earthquake, threatening people's lives and livelihoods significantly. Real-time mitigation of earthquake risk, based on decreasing vulnerability and exposure, could help protect vulnerable cities from the effects of seismic activity.
In this light, the EU-funded http://www.reaktproject.eu/ (REAKT) (Strategies and tools for real time earthquake risk reduction) project set out to boost real-time earthquake risk mitigation methods and their ability to protect people, buildings and infrastructures.
Project partners took stock of conditions that encourage or hinder the application of short-term earthquake forecasting and early warning methodologies. They identified scientific and regulatory issues that need to be addressed in upcoming research.
In effect, REAKT developed a procedure to make integrated use of data from operational forecasting models, early warning and rapid alert systems.. Thanks to a better understanding of the dynamics of earthquake methods and transient phenomena such as strain variations, pore pressure and seismic release rate, the team was able to enhance the reliability of operational forecasting and early warning.
Key to the success of REAKT was viewing overall system performance from an end-user perspective. To this end, the team closely collaborated with several key stakeholders, including civil protection and railway systems representatives, port authorities, hospitals and educational institutions. They helped assess and optimise the earthquake early warning and real-time risk assessment procedures developed to reduce seismic risk to various industries, infrastructure and strategic structures.
Researchers also produced proposals for decision making based on data exchange protocols and performance evaluation approaches and implemented guidelines for different industries and end-user useful for cost-benefit analysis.
The scientific output amounted to about 90 papers in peer reviewed journals and 170 oral and poster presentations at international events.
REAKT provided decision makers and authorities with more efficient real-time earthquake risk mitigation methods. They are now better equipped to protect people and cities against earthquakes.