Earthquake Risk Map Released From Insurer FM Global

This online resource employs data and seismic hazard models resulting from FM Global's partnership with the Global Earthquake Model (GEM) Foundation.

Deadly virus mutations, record hurricanes, historic wildfires, and a beached cargo ship: Though unexpected, all were known business risks that would have been worse if complicated by yet another surprise — a serious earthquake. The ever-present risk of earthquakes, which on average causes nearly US$40 billion in direct economic loss every year, is why FM Global has released its comprehensive global earthquake risk map. Based in Johnston, RI, FM Global is a mutual insurance company whose capital, scientific research capability, and engineering expertise are dedicated solely to property risk management and the resilience of its client-owners.

Online and interactive, the FM Global Worldwide Earthquake Map is an essential tool to help business executives, and focused on helping organizations shore up the resilience of their global supply chains. At no cost, executives can use the map to plan, site, assess, and manage their global operations.

(Image: FM Global Worldwide Earthquake Map)

FM Global points out that its Worldwide Earthquake Map differs markedly from most other earthquake hazard maps that show only the expected ground shaking for a fixed return time. This Worldwide Earthquake Map directly incorporates soil effects and building structural performance to map the return times of ground motions that will damage weak buildings. This is focused on enabling organizations to consistently compare earthquake risk across the globe.

“The majority of global businesses have locations, suppliers, or customers in earthquake zones but lack a complete picture of the risk,” said Brion Callori, senior vice president and manager, engineering and research at FM Global. “To business leaders, the seismology of an earthquake is less salient than the property damage and business disruption that can result. Our clients’ business resilience is the focus of this map.”

This new resource employs data and seismic hazard models resulting from FM Global’s longstanding partnership with the Global Earthquake Model (GEM) Foundation, a nonprofit, public-private partnership that drives a global collaborative effort to develop scientific and high-quality resources for transparent assessment of earthquake risk.

In China, a hazard model jointly developed by FM Global and the China Earthquake Administration is used, and in the United States, a new hazard model by the U.S. Geological Survey is utilized.

The map also incorporates soil data, which helps determine shaking levels at a resolution of one square kilometer or less. In addition, the map integrates refined thresholds for structural vulnerability to account for varying building quality and contents around the world.

The FM Global Worldwide Earthquake Map is a layer in the company’s omnibus natural hazards map, which also displays climate risks such as flood and hail. Regions fall into zones based on the return periods of damaging ground motion: every 50 years, 100 years, 250 years, 500 years, and >500 years.

Based on the new map, some regions of the world will see above-average movement to higher risk zones, including:

  • The states of California, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah
  • Asia Pacific: China, New Zealand and India
  • Europe and Middle East: Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Italy and Israel
  • Latin America: Mexico

Example areas seeing above-average movement to lower risk zones include:

  • The states of Oregon and Washington, and the New Madrid Seismic Zone region]
  • Asia Pacific: Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia
  • Europe and Middle East: Spain, Germany, Austria, Hungary and the United Arab Emirates
  • Canada: Ottawa-Montreal
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