News & Events



​Counterfactual Analysis Of Runaway Earthquakes

Published on: 14-Jan-2019

Event Type: Seminar

Event Date: 18 January 2019 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm

Venue: ASE 3D Viz Laboratory Room (N2-B1c-16c)

Speaker: Dr. Gordon Woo

About the speaker:

Dr. Gordon Woo is an internationally recognized expert on risk management, with a particular focus on catastrophe risks.  In 2004, Newsweek magazine described Dr. Gordon Woo as one of the world’s leading catastrophists.  He has thirty years of experience in earthquake risk consultancy, advising financial institutions, governments and major corporations.  His current research focuses on tracking Black Swans through counterfactual risk analysis.  The application to seismic risk is the subject of a paper, co-authored with Arnaud Mignan (ETHZ), published recently in Seismological Research Letters.  

Top mathematics graduate at Cambridge University, he completed his PhD at MIT as a Kennedy Scholar, and was a member of the elite Harvard Society of Fellows. He is an adjunct professor at ICRM, and a visiting professor at University College London. He is the author of two books on catastrophe risk, published by World Scientific Press, Singapore:  The Mathematics of Natural Catastrophes, and Calculating Catastrophe.

About the event:

The historical record of earthquakes is a crucial data resource for seismic hazard analysis.  In every region, the largest events are rare, and difficult to parameterize. Where such events are associated with the ruptures of mapped faults, defining the extent of possible fault ruptures is an important task which is guided by historical precedent.  Traditionally, in seismic hazard analysis, if a particular rupture geometry had not been observed, it was not included in a seismic source model.  Seeing is believing is an empirical principle which fails to recognize the fundamental stochasticity of earthquake occurrence.  A fault rupture that happened in the past is just one of numerous ways in which seismic energy might have been dynamically released.  The basic concepts of counterfactual risk analysis are explained, followed by a seismological discussion of runaway earthquakes.  A specific application of counterfactual analysis is presented for a runaway earthquake on the North Anatolian Fault in Turkey.

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