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An improved model for seismic risk assessment in Portugal

Mário Marques (Faculty of Engineering, Universidade do Porto, Porto, Portugal)
Ricardo Monteiro (University School of Advanced Studies (IUSS) of Pavia, Pavia, Italy)
Raimundo Delgado (Faculty of Engineering, Universidade do Porto, Porto, Portugal)

International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment

ISSN: 1759-5908

Article publication date: 12 February 2018




Portugal experienced very destructive earthquakes in the past, such as the well-known “Lisbon earthquake” in 1755. With such in mind, accurate estimates of human and economic losses can play a significant role in providing various societal key players with objective information for response strategies. This paper aims to present the contribution of the most recent study in Portugal (PRISE) concerning comprehensive seismic risk assessment, which can be used as good practice and reproduced in different contexts.


PRISE (earthquake loss assessment of the Portuguese building stock) covered three main lines of research, corresponding to the three components typically considered in any seismic risk assessment study: the characterization of the seismic hazard, the identification of the exposure to earthquakes and loss potential and the vulnerability of the exposed assets. Each of these components has been fully characterized through the collection of census and local data (exposure), used to carry out nonlinear analysis (hazard and fragility).


By involving different research institutions and partners with extensive knowledge and expertise in the earthquake domains, the developed model is capable of producing economic and human earthquake loss estimates in real time (through an innovative Web-based platform) or for specific event scenarios, considering exposed population, residential and industrial buildings. The platform uses open-source tools and hence, it can be reproduced in other countries or contexts.

Research limitations/implications

Research wise, the hazard, vulnerability and exposure models can still be significantly improved, e.g. by adding critical infrastructure (hospitals, school buildings and bridges) or updating the nonlinear models, for more accurate loss predictions.

Practical implications

The findings and loss estimates for different earthquake scenarios show that planned interventions are required. Decision-makers and other relevant stakeholders (Civil Protection) can make use of the developed platform to produce specific estimates, to test the effect of different retrofitting interventions or to plan for emergency scenarios.


A real-time Web-based framework to estimate building damage and economic/human losses because of seismic events has been developed, aiming to provide the Portuguese Civil Protection and other playmakers with a unique platform for planning and preparing for emergency scenarios.



The authors thank the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) for funding the project PRISE, PTDC/ECM-EST/3062/2012 “Loss Assessment and Seismic Risk of Buildings in Portugal”.


Marques, M., Monteiro, R. and Delgado, R. (2018), "An improved model for seismic risk assessment in Portugal", International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment, Vol. 9 No. 1, pp. 70-83.



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