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 (e.g. recent consultancy concerning Hinkley Point C). Another research focus is induced seismicity from projects in the geothermal and shale gas sectors.

As an engineering seismologist, 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

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. (Supervisor: Prof. N. N. Ambraseys)

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/CL986/CL939 Qualitative And Quantitative Research Methods, MSc., 10 credits/5 ECTS, Semester 1 (contributing lecturer)

CL448 Individual Project, Year 4, 30 credits/15 ECTS, Semesters 1 and 2 (project advisor)

CL516 MEng Dissertation, 20 credits/10 ECTS, Semesters 1 and 2 (project advisor)

CL944/CL980 MSc dissertation, 60 credits/30 ECTS, Summer period (project advisor)

Personal Statement

Welcome to my university webpages.

I am a Chancellor’s Fellow (Lecturer) in the Centre for Intelligent Infrastructure within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. My principal research interests are improving hazard and risk evaluations for natural perils, in particular earthquakes (engineering seismology and earthquake engineering). 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.

I completed my PhD in engineering seismology in 2001 at Imperial College London, following a BSc. Hons (first class) in Mathematics also 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.

Please visit the Expertise tab for a list of my research interests and 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 and some introductory slides are available for download from figshare. My contribution to a panel discussion on the impact of induced seismicity for the insurance industry can be viewed here. A recent open-access article on ground motions from large earthquakes is available for free download 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. A potential PhD topic in engineering seismology is given here. Please consult this page concerning applications ("How can I apply?" tab) and fees ("Fees & funding tab). Information on potential scholarships is available on this page (select "Postgraduate Research" in the "Level of study" drop-down menu). N.B. If you can start your PhD before March 2018 and meet the eligibility criteria you may wish to apply for this fully-funded PhD studentship

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 projects related to nuclear installations in France, Switzerland, Slovenia, South Africa, Turkey and the UK, various projects concerning dams and LNG facilities in north Africa and central and eastern Asia and a project related to induced seismicity in The Netherlands.

Academic / Professional qualifications

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    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, engineering seismology, risk, induced seismicity, insurance, reinsurance, catastrophe models, earthquake engineering

Projects

(3)
  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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Prizes

(1)
  1. Young Researcher Prize (Prix du Jeune Chercheur)

    Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

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John Douglas

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