2016 – Seismic Hazard Assessment Methods including Deterministic and Probabilistic Methods and their uses in Dam Design

Paul Somerville

The key differences between probabilistic seismic hazard analysis (PSHA) and deterministic seismic hazard analysis (DSHA, preferably referred to as a scenario-based analysis) are that, unlike DSHA, PSHA takes account of all magnitudes on all earthquake sources that may affect the site, including the frequency of occurrence of each earthquake scenario that is considered, and fully considers the random variability (epsilon) in ground motion level. The result of a DSHA is the ground motion at the site resulting from a single earthquake scenario (or a few scenarios) having a preselected value of epsilon (usually 0 or 1), and the annual frequency of exceedance (or return period) of this ground motion level is undefined. In contrast, the hazard curve produced by PSHA yields the mean annual rates of exceedance (or return period) for each ground motion level. The complementary nature of PSHA and DSHA is manifested in the fact that practical application of PSHA, especially using ground motion time histories, results in scenario earthquakes that resemble the products of DSHA. Application of the period dependence of epsilon using the conditional mean spectrum (CMS) avoids the inaccurate and overconservative representation of the hazard by the uniform hazard spectrum (UHS) obtained in PSHA.

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