John Douglas

Lecturer B

Research Interests

To evaluate the potential impact of a natural peril (e.g. an earthquake) it is necessary to consider the following three aspects:

  • hazard (e.g. how the ground shakes during an earthquake);
  • vulnerability (e.g. how a building responds to this shaking); and
  • exposure (e.g. how many of these buildings are in the zone of interest).

The combination of these three factors provides an estimate of the risk, which expresses the chance that a certain undesirable event (e.g. building collapse) may occur.

It is important to distinguish between the hazard, which cannot be altered, and the risk, which can be reduced (mitigated) by lower the vulnerability and exposure of the building stock. My research aims to improve earthquake risk evaluation for engineering purposes, in particular through the reduction of uncertainties in seismic hazard assessments. It is important that the hazard is neither over- nor under-estimated. Examples of the latter are dramatically displayed by damage to buildings that were constructed in accordance with the expected ground motion in the region. An over-estimated hazard leads to higher construction costs for seismic resistance, which consumes resources that could be better spent tackling other problems.

At Strathclyde I am particularly interested in problems related to hazard and risk assessments for the power and energy sector. For example, high-importance power facilities such as nuclear power plants must consider the impact of earthquakes. Another research focus is induced seismicity from projects in the geothermal and shale gas sectors.

One of my main interests is improving ground-motion prediction, i.e. providing better models of the shaking to expect at a site given a particular earthquake at a certain distance. Such models are a basis of seismic hazard assessment. I maintain a compendium of published models, which now number many hundreds.

Expertise & Capabilities

I completed my PhD in engineering seismology in 2001 at Imperial College London. Following two years as a post-doctoral researcher at Imperial, I was a senior engineering seismologist at BRGM (French Geological Survey) from 2004 until 2015 during which time I was involved in research, public service and commercial projects in many aspects of risk evaluation for various natural perils. From 2009 to 2014 I was a visiting professor at the Earthquake Engineering Research Centre, University of Iceland.

Academic / Professional qualifications

1998 BSc. Hons Mathematics with Applied Maths/Mathematical Physics, University of London (Imperial College), First Class.

2001 Ph.D. Civil and Environmental Engineering (Engineering Seismology), University of London (Imperial College). Thesis available here.

2010 Habilitation à diriger des recherches (accreditation to supervise research) Earth Sciences (Seismology), University of Grenoble, France. Report available here.

Teaching Interests

Departmental exchange (Erasmus and international) advisor

CL329/CL332 Engineering Mathematics (Statistics), Year 3, 10 credits/5 ECTS, Semester 2 (sole lecturer)

CL931/CL957 Qualitative And Quantitative Research Methods, MSc., 10 credits/5 ECTS, Semester 1 (contributing lecturer)

CL434 Individual Project, Year 4, 20 credits/10 ECTS, Semesters 1 and 2 (project advisor)

Personal Statement

Welcome to my university webpages.

I am a Chancellor’s Fellow (Lecturer) in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. My principal research interests are improving hazard and risk evaluations for natural perils, in particular earthquakes. Through various knowledge exchange activities (including consultancies) I seek to apply my skills in practice, e.g. within seismic hazard assessments for high-value infrastructure. My teaching and administrative responsibilities include being departmental exchange coordinator.

Please visit the Expertise tab for a summary of my professional experience (including a list of recent activities), the Research tab, the Teaching tab and the Publications tab to obtain more details. A recent presentation on my research is available for view here. My contribution to a panel discussion on the impact of induced seismicity for the insurance industry can be viewed here.

Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in research or knowledge exchange (e.g. consultancy) collaborations. I am particularly interested to hear from fully-funded students interested in doing a PhD under my supervision.


Industrial Relevance

Seismic hazard assessment is not solely an academic exercise as it provides estimates of earthquake shaking to be used by engineers and decision-makers for design, retrofit and planning purposes. Consequently, I have been involved in a large number of consultancy projects as a seismic hazard expert. These have included nuclear-power projects in Switzerland, Slovenia, South Africa and the UK, and various projects worldwide concerning dams and LNG facilities.

Academic / Professional qualifications


    Research areas

  • seismic, earthquake, natural hazards, Risk Assessment, seismology, ground-motion prediction, Nuclear, Damage, Uncertainty, civil engineering, Statistics, consultancy, seismic hazard, review panel, hazard, United Kingdom, Europe, SSHAC, PSHA, GMPE


  1. 16th European Conference on Earthquake Engineering

    Activity: Participating in or organising an eventOrganiser of major conference

  2. 16th European Conference on Earthquake Engineering

    Activity: Participating in or organising an eventKey-note speaker and plenary lectures at conferences

  3. COMET Annual Meeting 2017

    Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

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  1. Consultancy for Fircroft

    Project: Knowledge Exchange (Services/Consultancy)

  2. Consultancy for CH2M Hill International

    Project: Knowledge Exchange (Services/Consultancy)Knowledge Exchange (Services / Consultancy)

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  1. Young Researcher Prize (Prix du Jeune Chercheur)

    Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

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John Douglas

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