Consequence-driven scenario selection for seismic hazard in stable continental regions

Current state-of-practice risk frameworks are driven by knowledge of hazard characteristics. In our new consequence-driven approach, we focus on the needs of regions where the hazard is not well constrained. The consequence-driven framework begins with the explicit definition of a consequence of concern by the stakeholder, such as a particular level of loss (eg., lives, dollars, or another metric of interest). Driven by this stakeholder-defined consequence, we perform a computational search for a complete event set of candidate scenarios that could breach this consequence. The final selection of a scenario, or family of scenarios, is then scientifically informed, but not limited by our lack of constraints in characterizing the hazard. To demonstrate this approach, we consider the case of scenario selection for earthquake emergency management and preparedness exercises in regions of low to moderate seismic risk, such as in the central and eastern United States. In regions of low seismicity, even moderate events can be consequential due to the higher vulnerability of buildings typical of such regions when compared to regions of higher seismicity. Yet, communicating seismic risk to stakeholders and community members in these regions can be especially challenging due to the complexities of characterizing the hazard level. The consequence-driven framework enables risk assessment to be centered on identified human interests rather than hazard characteristics, and provides a new paradigm from which to visualize hazards and risk.


  • Lin, Yolanda C., Lindsey L. Rotche, Kuo-Won Lin., Eric M. Thompson, David Lallemant, Walter Peters, David J. Wald. “Earthquake scenario selection for portfolio holders in CEUS: a case study with Oklahoma DOT.” 12th National Conference in Earthquake Engineering, Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, June 30, 2022, Salt Lake City, UT.

  • Lin, Yolanda C., David J. Wald, Eric M. Thompson, David Lallemant. “Applying Consequence Driven Scenario Selection to Lifelines,” ASCE Lifelines Conference 2021-2022. February 9, 2022.

  • Lin, Yolanda C. “Pathways to effective earthquake scenarios in uncertain contexts.” USGS Earthquake Science Center Seminar Series. November 10, 2021. View seminar recording here.

This work is supported by the United States Geological Survey under Grant No. G21AP10383-00