How Do We Model Earthquake?

Geoscience Australia provides all levels of the Australian government, industry and public with information on the hazard associated with earthquakes in Australia. We do this by employing the following techniques:

  • Neotectonic analysis - identify structures that have hosted tectonic displacement in the current crustal stress regime and catalogue the variation in their physical and seismological characteristics across the continent. This enables assessment of how earthquake-prone areas are at time scales longer than the historic record.
  • Palaeoseismological investigation - identify and characterise individual pre-historic seismic events that make up the neotectonic record. This allows for determination of large earthquake recurrence, maximum magnitude and other parameters useful in the determination of seismic hazard for a site.
  • Site response assessment - determine the likely response of an area to a given level of earthquake ground shaking based on its near surface geology. This data is used to adjust modelled earthquake ground motion when predicting damage to structures at the Earth's surface.
  • Probabilistic seismic hazard modelling - model a range of potential earthquake events and the relative chance of a given event occurring in the future. This informs the strategic development and prioritisation of long-term mitigation and preparedness activities.
  • Earthquake scenario modelling - simulate a given earthquake and the likely levels of impact based on the current or future conditions of a community. This enables the development of plausible options for strategic and operational emergency management purposes; training, planning, capacity testing, response and early warning forecasts.
  • Model validation - Test earthquake hazard models, e.g. can the model simulate the observed earthquake behaviour?