l`aquila 2009 earthquake affair

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Natural Hazards and Scientific Advice:
Interactions Among Scientists,
Decision Makers and the Public
PAOLO GASPARINI
Professor Emeritus at the University of Napoli Federico II
GOLDSCHMIDT CONFERENCE 2013
Plenary session 28th August
Florence, Italy
This presentation benefitted of contribution from
Mauro Dolce, Dept. of Civil Protection
Warner Marzocchi, INGV Rome
Giulio Selvaggi, INGV Rome
and of ideas and discussions with:
Tom Jordan, SCEC
Gaetano Manfredi, Università di Napoli Federico II
Franco Barberi, Università di Roma 3
Gordon Woo, RMS
Friedemann Wenzel, KIT
Jochen Zschau, GFZ
Outline of the talk
 WHY LOSSES DUE TO NATURAL HAZARDS ARE INCREASING

THE ROLE OF SCIENTISTS AND DECISION MAKERS

RECENT EXAMPLES OF FALSE OR MISSED ALARMS

AN EXTREME CASE: THE L’AQUILA 2009 EARTHQUAKE AFFAIR

DEALING WITH VERY LOW PROBABILITIES

A POSSIBLE SCENARIO OF INTERACTIONS
WHY LOSSES DUE TO NATURAL HAZARD ARE INCREASING
WHY LOSSES DUE TO NATURAL HAZARD ARE INCREASING
WHY LOSSES DUE TO NATURAL HAZARD ARE INCREASING
The Urban Explosion
In 2030 about 82%
of the population of
industrial countries
and 57% of the
population of less
developed countries
will be living in
urban areas
Urban population in developing countries
Rural population in developing countries
Urban population in industrialised
countries
Rural population in industrialised
countries
WHY LOSSES DUE TO NATURAL HAZARD ARE INCREASING
Natural hazard risk index for megacities
Worldwide, the loss potential from natural catastrophes is
increasingly dominated by megacities.
Source: Munich Re, 2004
WHY LOSSES DUE TO NATURAL HAZARD ARE INCREASING
Increasing disaster-related
fatalities and damage even if
the frequency and magnitude
of geophysical events remains
unchanged.
Virginia earthquake – August 23, 2011
Mw = 5.8 – Damages in Washington, D.C. 135 Km away
Emilia earthquake – May, 2012
Mw = 5.8
Christchurch earthquake – February 22, 2011
Mw = 6.3
WHY LOSSES DUE TO NATURAL HAZARD ARE INCREASING
Black Swans
(Extremely rare events with huge impact on human life, structures, and
socio-economy)
Tohoku Tsunami triggered by the unexpected Mw=9.0 offshore earthquake of March 11, 2011
THE ROLE OF SCIENTISTS AND DECISION MAKERS
 Communication is a major challenge for the
management of risk nowadays and in the future;
 We live in exponential growth time: world population
is growing exponentially, cities and megacities are
exponentially increasing in complexity;
 Cities are natural risk attractors;
 Communication of scientific information is a
complex and still unresolved task, fundamental to
prevent cities to become natural risk traps.
THE ROLE OF SCIENTISTS AND DECISION MAKERS
Scientific advise for natural hazard management is mainly
asked for:
• URBAN AND LAND USE PLANNING
(Long Term Hazard and Risk Assessment)
• EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT
(Short Term Hazard and Risk Assessment)
THE ROLE OF SCIENTISTS AND DECISION MAKERS
Scientific advise for Urban and Land Use Planning is a
demanding, complex but not complicated task:
 No urgency requirements;
 Fairly well defined responsibilities.
Main requirements of scientific advise:
 Careful consideration of all possible hazard;
 Harmonization and probabilistic quantitative evaluation
of the parameters defining hazard occurrence.
THE ROLE OF SCIENTISTS AND DECISION MAKERS
THE ROLE OF SCIENTISTS AND ADMINISTRATORS
Risk curves of the hazards due to windstorms, floods and earthquakes for the city of Cologne
considering losses at buildings and in the sectors private housing, commerce and industry (2000).
(Matrix Project, Grunthal, et al, 2011)
THE ROLE OF SCIENTISTS AND DECISION MAKERS
SCIENTIFIC ADVISE FOR AN IMPENDING EMERGENCY
SITUATION IS DRAMATICALLY DIFFERENT:
 Need of rapid response;
 No clear separation of responsibilities;
 No established rules for information to the public;
 No established protocols for real time risk mitigation
actions.
THE ROLE OF SCIENTISTS AND DECISION MAKERS
The Challenge is for scientists to articulate uncertainty without losing credibility and to
give public officials the information they need for decision-making
Public officials
Scientists
this requires to bridge the gap between scientific output (probability) and the boolean
logic (YES-NO) of decision-makers
THE ROLE OF SCIENTISTS AND DECISION MAKERS
Scientists responsible for hazard
and risk assessment
Emergency
managers
Decision making of emergency
Education of the public
Human behaviour response of
the population at risk
INDIVIDUAL
DECISION MAKING
THE ROLE OF SCIENTISTS AND DECISION MAKERS
This ideal division of tasks and responsabilities is not
usually respected in emergency management.
a) While providing assessment of risk, scientists often suggest
more or less explicitely risk mitigation actions and are
asked to contribute to inform the public;
b) Scientific advise is rarely given in quantitative probabilistic
terms;
c) Emergency time is different for each kind of hazard.
Successful results for volcanic crises (Mt. Soufriere of
Montserrat, Mt. Pinatubo eruption) for floods and partially
for hurricanes.
d) Earthquakes are an extreme case of decision making in
short time and great uncertainty
RECENT EXAMPLES OF FALSE OR MISSED ALARMS
370,000 New York Citizen
were evacuated under the
threat of two hurricanes in
2011 and 2012.
Hurricane Sandy: October2012
Hurricane Irene: August 2011
It was a false alarm: several
industries and private companies
threatened to undertake legal
actions againts Mayor Michael
Bloomberg. No blame on scientists
19
RECENT EXAMPLES OF FALSE OR MISSED ALARMS
A debated case. Actions taken to protect aircrafts during the Explosive
eruption of Eyjafjallajökull (Iceland) in 2010.
RECENT EXAMPLES OF FALSE OR MISSED ALARMS
A situation of great uncertainties
Scientists provided a continuous
simulation of ashes density in the plume
and forecast of plume direction. The
British Civil Aviation Authority established
threshold levels for the ash density.
Several flights over Europe were
forbidden and some airport were closed
for several days.
The CAA manager was blamed to have
been too cautious.
No blame on scientists.
RECENT EXAMPLES OF FALSE OR MISSED ALARMS
A case of missed alarm: The Madrid snow storm of January 9, 2009
45.000 people was trapped at Airports and 400 km of vehicles were trapped on
Highways because authorities waited to give warning untill the false alarm
probability was very low. Too Late to reach people timely!
RECENT EXAMPLES OF FALSE OR MISSED ALARMS
An outstanding case of missed alarm: the M9 March 2011
Tohoku Earthquake and tsunami
On March 11, 2011, a M9 hits the Honshu coast
Probability map for the period Jan.1-Dec.31 2011. The legend reports the annual probability map for a M≥ 8.5
earthquake in each cell of 0.1x0.1 degrees. The box is the fault of the Tohoku earthquake and the star is the
epicenter.
RECENT EXAMPLES OF FALSE OR MISSED ALARMS
On March 9, 2011, a M7.2 occurred in the same area
Weekly prob M8.5+=0.12%
Prob gain > 100
Probability map for the period March 9 - March 16, 2011. The legend reports the probability map for a M≥ 8.5
earthquake in each cell of 0.1x0.1 degrees. The box is the fault of the Tohoku earthquake; the circle is around the
epicenter of the M7.2 earthquake occurred on March 9; the star is the epicenter of the Tohoku earthquake.
RECENT EXAMPLES OF FALSE OR MISSED ALARMS
Performance EEW nel M9.0 Terremoto di Tohoku
RECENT EXAMPLES OF FALSE OR MISSED ALARMS
The Government of Japan and The
Chief Manager of the Japan
Meteorological Agency admitted the
inadequacy of their actions and
apologized on dedicated TV
Broadcast.
RECENT EXAMPLES OF FALSE OR MISSED ALARMS
Christchurch Earthquake, New Zealand
On September 3, 2010 a M7.1
earthquake with 11 km focal
depth hit an area 40 km away
from the town of Christchurch.
No casualties.
On January 21, 2011 a M6.3 earthquake located 5 km away
from Christchurch, at a depth of about 5 km, hit the region
producing 180 casualties and about 7000 injuried people.
RECENT EXAMPLES OF FALSE OR MISSED ALARMS
Aftershocks gradually shifted with time from the location of the M7.1 quake Eastward in
direction of the city of Christchurch
RECENT EXAMPLES OF FALSE OR MISSED ALARMS

No alert was given during the aftershock
sequence.

Although some blame was on scientists and
administrators, no legal actions.

The only legal actions were against
designers and builders of some collapsed
structures.
L’AQUILA 2009 EARTHQUAKE AFFAIR
Seismic Hazard map of Italy (2004) in terms
of acceleration expected with a return period
of 475 y (10% exceedence probability in 50
years). A zoom on Abruzzo Apennine is
shown in the map on the left. Expected
acceleration at L’Aquila on basement rocks
are in the range 0.25-0.75 g.
L’AQUILA 2009 EARTHQUAKE AFFAIR
1985
1994 2003-04
Sequences with M>3.9 earthquakes in an area with 50 km radius
around L’Aquila in the last 50 years. 13 earthquakes had magnitude
greater than 4.
L’AQUILA 2009 EARTHQUAKE AFFAIR
Comparison between seismic swarms occurred in 1985 and in 2009 (before
the Aprile 6 main shock). Number of events with M>2.5 and M> 1 (upper
left) are reported.
A
Paganica
B
C
(A) Epicenters of earthquakes between January 1 and April 6, 2009. (B) Location of the vertical section
reported in (C) the violet curve encloses the foci of the pre-April 6 sequence. Black dots are the aftershoks
the brown line is the fault plane generating the April 6 main event.
L’AQUILA 2009 EARTHQUAKE AFFAIR
2009 L’Aquila Affair Sequence

Seismic activity in the L’Aquila area increases in January, 2009



During the sequence Mr. Gianpaolo Giuliani, a technician of INFN, issued predictions of
impending large earthquakes in the region (The predictions were not backed by his
scientific institution)

These unofficial predictions were based on variations of Radon concentration measured with
gamma-ray detectors. The used correlation procedures were not made available, and when
presented to ICEF after April 6, resulted to not have a scientific basis.

At least two of the specific predictions resulted to be false alarms, but generated widespread public
concern.
INGV and the DPC respond with statements about “earthquake prediction”


M<3.5 earthquakes were felt in L’Aquila region and continued in the following months.
On March 31, The seismology section of the High Risk Commission (HRC), a consultant body to
help DPC in crisis management, was convened in L’Aquila to give an opinion on Giuliani’s
prediction.
On Apr 1, L’Aquila mayor asks for state of emergency

Damage from swarm estimated to be €15 M.

Municipality plan had been activated in “attention phase”,; several schools evacuated after felt
events.
L’AQUILA 2009 EARTHQUAKE AFFAIR
2009 L’Aquila Affair Sequence

After two quakes of M3.5 and 3.9 occurring a few hours before, a main shock of M 6.3
occurred at 3.32 a.m. of April 6, 2009.

The quake killed over 300 people, injuried more than 1700 persons and destroyed or severely damaged
about 20,000 buildings.

On October 22, 2012 The Court of L’Aquila condemned at first level some of the
participants at the March 31 meeting of the High Risk Commission.
L’AQUILA 2009 EARTHQUAKE AFFAIR
The verdict
Seven scientists and public officials who attended the High
Risk Commission meeting of March 31, 2009 were found
guilty for involuntary multiple manslaughter and multiple serious
injuries.
The faults consisted in “negligenza, imprudenza and imperizia”
(negligence, uncautiousness, unskillfulness). They were
condemned to:
 6 years in prison (*)
 Perpetual interdiction from public offices and legal
interdiction during the enforcement of the sentence (*)
 Financial compensation to the families of the victims (€
8ml) (**)
(*) execution suspended until final level of judgment
(**) immediate execution
L’AQUILA 2009 EARTHQUAKE AFFAIR
In spite of its considerable length (940 pages), the verdict
motivation can be summarised in few lines
A High Risk Commission (HRC) meeting was convened in L’Aquila on March 31, 2009, following a
6 month lasting low magnitude seismic sequence culminated with a ML 4.0 the day before;
All the seven indicted people are considered member of the Commission but only four actually
were;
The Commission had peculiar duties of assessment of the risk situation in L'Aquila and correct
information to the population;
The Commission has failed in those obligations of assessment and information, and all the HRC
components are responsible for the violation of such obligations;
The fault consisted in approximated evaluation of the situation and in having contributed
to spread reassuring messages to the population;
Because of this, 29 dead people out of 309 fatalities, that were used to run away from their
homes alarmed by earthquakes, remained in their homes on the night of April 6, 2009 and died as a
result of the collapse of the buildings in which they had remained.
L’AQUILA 2009 EARTHQUAKE AFFAIR
The 31 March Meeting
The meeting was held with the participation of many local authorities
(including L’Aquila Mayor) and other officers all belonging to the
National Civil Protection Service.
Experts were neither alarmistic nor reassuring, concluding that:
 large earthquakes are not predictable deterministically
 a large event in the short-term is “unlikely”
 L’Aquila is one of the areas in Italy with the highest seismic hazard
 After the meeting, De Bernardinis and Barberi hold a press
conference, reporting the above mentioned conclusions. However no
audio recording of the conference is available. No press release;
 No minutes of the 31/3 meeting were published before April 6.
L’AQUILA 2009 EARTHQUAKE AFFAIR
Participants at the 31 March Meeting
• Government officials
• Scientists with appointment as member of the High Risks Committee (HRC)
• Scientist (Selvaggi), not formally invited to the meeting, accompanying a member of
the HRC (Boschi). Each of them had a different duty decided by the law
Government officials of the
Civil Protection
Government-appointed
Scientists
(High Risk Committee)
Scientist
Bernardo De Bernardinis
(Vice head of DPC)
Franco Barberi (President)
Giulio Selvaggi
(Director of the National
Earthquake Centre,
INGV)
Mauro Dolce (director Risk mitigation
office)
Enzo Boschi (member)
INGV President
Massimo Cialente (Mayor of L’Aquila)
Gian Michele Calvi
(member)
Daniela Stati
(Head of Regional Civil Protection)
Claudio Eva (member)
Preventive Action
(including informing the public)
Evaluation of
Scientific data
Provision of
Scientific data
L’AQUILA 2009 EARTHQUAKE AFFAIR
The HRC main faults according to the sentence:
HRC and some of its members in several interviews stated that the seismic
sequence in course at L’Aquila had to be considered normal and the
probability of an impending higher M event was minor;

HRC did not behave as a unitarian body because in the meeting only
statements were produced without explaination of scientific basis. Hence not
all the members were aware of the reliability of the statements;

The virdict’s motivations indicate what a legitimate behaviour should have
been:
« it would be sufficient to not say sentences as:… It is not possible make
predictions, ….(seismic) predictions have no scientific base…, the simple
obsrevation of several small earthquake is not in itself a precursor, ..some
strong earthquakes have been preceded by small shocks in many cases
small earthquakes have not been followed by strong events …and so on»
In other words, obvious scientific data should be dismissed and
hidden.
L’AQUILA 2009 EARTHQUAKE AFFAIR
Recurrence of Large Earthquakes Preceded by Swarms
698 seismic sequences
or single shocks with
3.5<M>5.0 occurred in
Italy in the period
1.1.1983-31.3.2009
None of them was
followed by a M>5.5
earthquake within 20
days and anda radius
of 200 km
According to Marzocchi
and Zhuang, (2011)
about 8/1000 M4
earthquakes are
followed by strong
events.
L’AQUILA 2009 EARTHQUAKE AFFAIR
Forecasting the mainshock (made retrospectively)
L’AQUILA 2009 EARTHQUAKE AFFAIR
The impact on society
From Discharge of Energy to Discharge of Responsibility
Schools evacuated after a 2.1 magnitude
earthquake in two towns
2,000 earthquakes with magnitude larger than 2.1 each year in Italy
L’AQUILA 2009 EARTHQUAKE AFFAIR
Seismic sequence in Garfagnana (Tuscany)
M4.8 on Jan 25 2013, then M3.2 on Jan 30
1. In the weekly seismic bulletin to DPC, INGV reports the largest
aftershock of the sequence (M3.2), and its slightly offset location,
stating that other aftershocks were likely
2. After several hours, the report is transmitted from DPC as it is to
Regione Toscana and to the municipalities
Final result: the twit from the Mayor
“Following the communication received from the
Prime Minister office, we suggest to leave your
house and stay outside”
3. At least 25,000 stayed out of their houses overnight.
a
L’AQUILA 2009 EARTHQUAKE AFFAIR
Consequences of L’Aquila Verdict

A defensive attitude from emergency managers meaning to give out decisional
responsibility;

A general loss of credibility;

Indiscriminate application of the “precautionary principle” will be encouraged;

Precautionary principle can give catastrophic consequences if applied without a
clear statement of the risk that a given community is keen to accept;

The precautionary principle in an absolute sense cannot operate;
 Demand for a technology to be put into operation without risk is a metaphysics
desire;
 We have to take risks, but risks must be balanced with a calculation;
 An absolutist use of the precautionary principle will stop forms of scientific
investigations and application of innovative techniques even for the protection
of humanity.
DEALING WITH VERY LOW PROBABILITY
International Commission on Earthquake Forecasting (ICEF)

Charged on 11 May 2009 by Dipartimento
della Protezione Civile (DPC) to:
1.
2.

Report on the current state of knowledge of
short-term prediction and forecasting of
tectonic earthquakes
Indicate guidelines for utilization of possible
forerunners of large earthquakes to drive
civil protection actions
ICEF report: “Operational Earthquake
Forecasting: State of Knowledge and
Guidelines for Utilization”

Findings & recommendations released by
DPC (Oct 2009) and endorsed by IASPEI
(July 2011)

Final report published in Annals of
Geophysics (Aug 2011)
Members (9 countries):
T. H. Jordan, Chair, USA
Y.-T. Chen, China
P. Gasparini, Secretary, Italy
R. Madariaga, France
I. Main, United Kingdom
W. Marzocchi, Italy
G. Papadopoulos, Greece
G. Sobolev, Russia
K. Yamaoka, Japan
J. Zschau, Germany
http://www.annalsofgeophysics.eu/index.php/annals/article/view/5350
DEALING WITH VERY LOW PROBABILITY
Issues with Operational Earthquake Forecasting

While the probability gains of short-term, seismicity-based forecasts
can be high (> 100 relative to long-term forecasts), the
daily/weekly probabilities of large earthquakes typically remain low
(< 1% per day)


Standardization of OEF procedures is in a nascent stage of
development


Preparedness actions appropriate in such high-gain, low-probability situations
have not been systematically investigated
Incremental benefits of OEF for civil protection (e.g., relative to long-term
seismic hazard analysis) have not been convincingly demonstrated
Under these circumstances, governmental agencies with statutory
responsibilities for earthquake forecasting have been cautious in
developing operational capabilities
DEALING WITH VERY LOW PROBABILITY
Almost all short-term earthquake forecasting models are based on seismic
clustering. ETAS (Epidemic-Type Aftershock Sequence) is probably the
most diffuse
Poisson background
Power-law spatial decay
Omori (modified) law
Utsu law
Gutenberg-Richter law
A POSSIBLE SCENARIO OF INTERACTIONS
No singles models are used!
ENSEMBLE forecasting
model. Each model is
weighted according to its
forecasting performances
Selected models (constraints)
They must be submitted to at least
one CSEP experiment
DEALING WITH VERY LOW PROBABILITY
Forecast Validation
ICEF Criteria for “Operational Fitness”

Quality of the forecast




Reliability and skill
Retrospective and prospective testing
Consistency among forecasts

Across temporal and spatial scales

Need for integrated model development
Value of the forecast to users

Economic cost/benefit analysis; psychological value

Pre-set alert thresholds

Transparent messaging system; public education
DEALING WITH VERY LOW PROBABILITY

Collaboratory for the Study of Earthquake Predictability
CSEP goal is rigorous testing of predictability hypotheses and
forecasting models:
 Automates blind, prospective testing in a standardized, controlled environment
 Current testing is only “quasi-prospective” owing to catalog latencies
 Has established experiments in a variety of tectonic environments and on a
global scale

CSEP components:

Natural laboratories comprising active fault systems with adequate, authorized
data sources for conducting forecasting experiments

Testing centers with validated procedures for registering and evaluating
prediction experiments

Model classes with common target events, forecasting regions, and forecast
updating intervals
A POSSIBLE SCENARIO OF INTERACTIONS
The Valuation Problem

Economic valuation is one basis for prioritizing how to
allocate the limited resources available for short-term
preparedness

In a low-probability environment, only low-cost actions are justified
Cost-Benefit Analysis for Binary Decision-Making (e.g., van Stiphout et al., 2010)
Suppose cost of protection against loss L is C < L. If the short-term earthquake
probability is P, the policy that minimizes the expected expense E:
- Protect if P > C/L
- Do not protect if P < C/L
Then, E = min {C, PL}.

However, many factors complicate this rational approach



Monetary valuation of life, historical structures, etc. is difficult
Valuation must account for information available in the absence of forecast
Official actions can incur intangible costs (e.g., loss of credibility) and benefits
(e.g., gains in psychological preparedness and resilience)
⇒
A POSSIBLE SCENARIO OF INTERACTIONS
Short-Term Earthquake Risk Assessment (2)
Time-dependent
Probabilistic Seismic
Hazard Assessment
Loss Estimation
Time-dependent
Probabilistic Seismic
Risk Assessment
Given the probability P that an earthquake has
a certain impact, ...
... should mitigation actions be taken or not?
C is financial effort to mitigate an earthquake risk:
#Evacueed People x socio-economic cost per day x day
PLC
L is financial loss due to an earthquake:
#Fatalities x Willingness to pay for human life saved
Optimal policy for
decision making:
P>
C
mitigation action is favorable
L
P<
C
mitigation action is NOT favorable
L
CBA
A POSSIBLE SCENARIO OF INTERACTIONS
Evolution of Probabilistic
Risk in L'Aquila
Probabilistic risk of having 100
fatalities as a function of time in
the last month prior the L'Aquila
MW6.3 earthquake
Seismicity within 50 km distance
to L'Aquila in the last month
prior the MW6.3 earthquake
A POSSIBLE SCENARIO OF INTERACTIONS
In September 2009, during construction work
for a new section of roadway,
a crack was discovered in an eyebar
on the eastern span of the
San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge.
According to Caltrans, this problem
was significant enough to have
closed the bridge on its own.
During a seismic sequence, additional infrastructure
inspections might be scheduled
to detect seismic defects.
A 50-foot section of the
Bay Bridge was damaged
in the 1989 Loma Prieta
earthquake
A POSSIBLE SCENARIO OF INTERACTIONS
During a seismic sequence, existing
seismic retrofit programs might be
accelerated at a rate commensurate
with the increase in the threat level.
None of the recently
retrofitted structures at the
Anheuser-Busch brewery in
Van Nuys, California were
damaged in the 1994
Northridge earthquake
A POSSIBLE SCENARIO OF INTERACTIONS



Earthquake hazard is a low-probability high-consequence
international peril like pandemic and terrorism.
There are public pandemic and terrorism alerts, which are
advisory not compulsory, and do not cause panic.
Increase in seismic risk advisories may also be provided
to the public.
CONCLUSION
Something to remember:

In all sciences, there is always uncertainty, and under conditions of
uncertainty, we have to take our decisions;

“We take our decisions in the twilight of probability, and not into the clear
light of certainties”(John Locke);

“The calculus of probability is essential to decide upon our conduct” (Blaise
Pascal);

Dealing with natual hazard we deal with very low probabilities and high
uncertainty;

The concept of probability is not included in the legislation of many
countires, including Italy. In Italy there is no legislation on insurance for NH;

The final aim should be for people being able to make decisions individually
within a probabilistic framework. Data and protocols must be transparent
and readily available to the public.
AN UNCOMMENSURABLE BUT PRECIOUS TASK!
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