Natural Hazards

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 353–374 | Cite as

Preliminary Quantitative Assessment of Earthquake Casualties and Damages

  • José Badal
  • Miguel Vázquez-prada
  • Álvaro González


Prognostic estimations of the expected number of killed or injured people and about the approximate cost associated with the damages caused by earthquakes are made following a suitable methodology of wide-ranging application. For the preliminary assessment of human life losses due to the occurrence of a relatively strong earthquake we use a quantitative model consisting of a correlation between the number of casualties and the earthquake magnitude as a function of population density. The macroseismic intensity field is determined in accordance with an updated anelastic attenuation law, and the number of casualties within areas of different intensity is computed using an application developed in a geographic information system (GIS) environment, taking advantage of the possibilities of such a system for the treatment of space-distributed data. The casualty rate, defined as the number of killed people divided by the number of inhabitants of the affected region, is also computed and we show its variation for some urban concentrations with different population density. For a rough preliminary evaluation of the direct economic cost derived from the damages, equally through a GIS-based tool, we take into account the local social wealth as a function of the gross domestic product of the country. This last step is performed on the basis of the relationship of the macroseismic intensity to the earthquake economic loss in percentage of the wealth. Such an approach to the human casualty and damage levels is carried out for sites near important cities located in a seismically active zone of Spain, thus contributing to an easier taking of decisions in emergency preparedness planning, contemporary earthquake engineering and seismic risk prevention.


macroseismic field population density human losses economic cost prognostic 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • José Badal
    • 1
  • Miguel Vázquez-prada
    • 1
  • Álvaro González
    • 2
  1. 1.Physics of the EarthUniversity of Zaragoza, Sciences BZaragozaSpain
  2. 2.Earth SciencesUniversity of Zaragoza, Sciences CZaragozaSpain

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