Natural Hazards

, Volume 52, Issue 2, pp 319–328 | Cite as

Global earthquake casualties due to secondary effects: a quantitative analysis for improving rapid loss analyses

  • Kristin D. Marano
  • David J. Wald
  • Trevor I. Allen
Original Paper


This study presents a quantitative and geospatial description of global losses due to earthquake-induced secondary effects, including landslide, liquefaction, tsunami, and fire for events during the past 40 years. These processes are of great importance to the US Geological Survey’s (USGS) Prompt Assessment of Global Earthquakes for Response (PAGER) system, which is currently being developed to deliver rapid earthquake impact and loss assessments following large/significant global earthquakes. An important question is how dominant are losses due to secondary effects (and under what conditions, and in which regions)? Thus, which of these effects should receive higher priority research efforts in order to enhance PAGER’s overall assessment of earthquakes losses and alerting for the likelihood of secondary impacts? We find that while 21.5% of fatal earthquakes have deaths due to secondary (non-shaking) causes, only rarely are secondary effects the main cause of fatalities. The recent 2004 Great Sumatra–Andaman Islands earthquake is a notable exception, with extraordinary losses due to tsunami. The potential for secondary hazards varies greatly, and systematically, due to regional geologic and geomorphic conditions. Based on our findings, we have built country-specific disclaimers for PAGER that address potential for each hazard (Earle et al., Proceedings of the 14th World Conference of the Earthquake Engineering, Beijing, China, 2008). We will now focus on ways to model casualties from secondary effects based on their relative importance as well as their general predictability.


PAGER Earthquake casualty Earthquake fatalities Earthquake hazard 



Advice from Paul Earle, Bruce Presgrave and John Bellini of the USGS National Information Center (NEIC) on procedures used for producing the PDE catalog was important for our analyses.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kristin D. Marano
    • 1
  • David J. Wald
    • 1
  • Trevor I. Allen
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.U.S. Geological Survey, GoldenGoldenUSA
  2. 2.U.S. Geological SurveyGoldenUSA
  3. 3.Geoscience AustraliaCanberraAustralia

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