Natural Hazards

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 141-154

First online:

Seismic hazard maps for the U.K.

  • R. M. W. MussonAffiliated withBritish Geological Survey
  • , P. W. WinterAffiliated withAEA Technology Consultancy Services, Thompson House

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Past studies of seismic hazard in the U.K. that have used modern probabilistic methods of hazard assessment have been site-specific studies, mostly in connection with nuclear installations. There has been a need for general-purpose maps of seismic hazard to show relative variation of exposure within the U.K. and to give some guidance on absolute values. Such maps have now been produced, incorporating, for the first time, the wealth of new information on historical earthquakes in Britain that has been gathered over the last 15 years. The hazard calculations were undertaken using a new computer code based on the USGS program SEISRISK III, but incorporating a ‘logic tree’ approach to model variation in the input parameters (e.g. focal depth) or uncertainty in the formulation of the model (e.g. attenuation parameters). An innovative approach was taken to the formulation of seismic source zones, in which two overlapping models were employed. The first of these uses relatively broad source zones based loosely on an interpretation of seismicity and tectonics, while the second uses numerous small zones that reflect the locations of past significant earthquakes. This double approach (using the logic tree methodology) has the merit of both considering the general trend of earthquake activity as well as focusing in on known danger spots. The results show that the areas of highest hazard are western Scotland, north-western England and Wales, where the intensity with 90% probability of non-exceedance in 50 years is 6 EMS.

Key words

seismic zone models seismic hazard maps seismicity United Kingdom