- © 2014 by the Seismological Society of America
After most moderate‐to‐strong earthquakes causing considerable damage (e.g., recent earthquakes such as those of Boumerdes in 2003, Bam in 2003, L’Aquila in 2009, Haïti in 2010, etc.), the observed losses remind local authorities and decision makers that reducing seismic risk is essential for the well‐being and safety of local populations, as well as for economic and social stability. The anticipation and simulation of the consequences of an earthquake scenario require knowledge of the probabilistic seismic hazard, as well as a representation of the capacity of structures to support the seismic ground motion: this is the objective of seismic‐vulnerability assessments. Such assessments (1) allow the estimation of probable damage at a large overall scale (country, region, town); (2) give information on the most vulnerable building categories that must benefit from priority reinforcement; (3) inform local authorities on the level of risk to which the population is exposed, compared with other natural or domestic hazards that are more frequent and therefore more easily appreciated by the population, particularly in moderate seismic‐hazard countries (Lestuzzi et al., 2009; Dunand and Guéguen, 2012); and (4) allow anticipation of the actions and reactions for crisis management by local or wider communities (Jaiswal et al., 2010). Coupled with real‐time seismic ground‐motion estimates (e.g., Wald et al., 1999; Worden et al., 2010), macroscale vulnerability data is crucial information for the early assessment of damage, as proposed for specific facilities by Wald et al. (2008).
Old structures, designed before the application of earthquake design rules and present everywhere, are certainly a critical element affecting the extent of loss and fatalities. Many empirical methods for vulnerability assessment have been published, most of them calibrated on postearthquake observations (e.g., Gruppo Nazionale per la Difesa dai Terremoti [GNDT], 1993; Hazus, 1997; Spence and Lebrun, 2006). They give the probability of reaching a …