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ICE supports UK seismic hazard map update

30 November 2020

 A project supported by ICE and carried out by experts at the British Geological Survey has updated the UK’s seismic hazard maps to assist with the implementation of Eurocode 8. 

ICE supports UK seismic hazard map update

A team led by Dr. Susanne Sargeant at the British Geological Survey has published the first updated seismic hazard maps in more than a decade, in work supported by ICE’s Research & Development Enabling Fund.

The previous maps - developed by Musson & Sargeant in 2007 - are widely used by the UK’s engineering sector to inform decisions relating to seismic hazard. The revised maps have been developed using some of the latest available data, knowledge and methods to support the UK’s implementation of Eurocode 8, a European construction standard which covers the design of structures for earthquake resistance.

The new maps give guidance on the levels of ground shaking from earthquakes that might be expected in different parts of the country.The research confirms that earthquake hazard in the UK is low in global terms. It shows that the part of the UK with the highest seismic hazard is Snowdonia. This is due to the occurrence of significant earthquakes in this area throughout the historical record. The next most hazardous location is South Wales, which has also experienced notable earthquake activity over the last few hundred years. The hazard in areas like the Channel Islands, North Wales, the English-Wales border region, the Lake District and North West Scotland is slightly higher relative to other areas of the UK.

View a Seismic hazard in terms of spectral acceleration (SA) at 0.2 s on rock for a 475 year return period.

The report highlights a need for further work to better understand the connection between the locations of recorded earthquakes and what is known about the tectonics of the UK.

The project team from the British Geological Survey and Edmund Booth, member of British Standards Institution sub-committee B/525/8 for Eurocode 8 (EC8): Earthquake resistant design of structures, discuss the possible applications of this research in in the latest ICE blog.

Edmund said: “BGS’s new and authoritative reassessment of the UK’s seismicity has important implications for the consulting engineering community, particularly those involved with projects involving a higher than usual consequences of failure – the ‘consequence class’ in Eurocode language.”

The maps are publicly available on the BGS website, along with an open-access report describing the model used to obtain the results.

ICE’s Research & Development Enabling Fund was set up more than 20 years ago to help civil engineers develop new and innovative ideas and tackle problems in design or construction. It is funded largely through member donations and backs projects of benefit to our membership and the wider engineering community, such as enabling more resilient infrastructure. It is open to any ICE member at any level of their career, including associate members.

The Fund’s panel is particularly interested in receiving applications relating to ICE’s themes of net-zero carbon, supporting the Sustainable Development Goals and ensuring social value in infrastructure.

To find out more about the RDE Fund and to apply, visit the website or email: [email protected].

Stay ahead of the competition with information on the seismic design construction methods and regulations. Pick up a copy of the latest Fourth edition Earthquake Design Practice for Buildings and Seismic Design of Foundations: Concepts and applications from the ICE bookshop.

  • Hannah Besford , Programme Specialist