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MSc Earthquake Engineering with Disaster Management

Alvaro Rubinos
Supervisor: Dr Carmine Galasso
UCL Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatics
Engineering, Gower St, London ,WC1E 6BT

West Africa was commonly known as an aseismic region. However, Ghana has suffered the
consequences derived from damaging earthquakes and its capital, Accra, was found as the most
vulnerable area. Very few studies have been conducted to properly assess the seismicity of the
country and it is believed that the current building code overestimates this seismicity by imposing
large lateral forces that are similar to the ones for subduction zones. With Ghana as one of the
fastest growing economies among sub-Saharan nations with important oil and gas extractive
infrastructure, it is essential to accurately estimate the ground motion likely to affect this country.

To perform a Probabilistic Seismic Hazard Analysis (PSHA) for Ghana to enhance the building code.
To provide preliminary up-to-date seismic guidance for proper earthquake-resistant design.


3.1. Earthquake catalogue & Seismic zone Characterization PSHA results were obtained using a Monte Carlo-based MATLAB code for
Compiled earthquake catalogue with 188 events from 16152016, mostly two hazard levels: 10% and 2% probability of exceedance in 50 years.
concentrated around Accra (Mwmin=1.5). Three seismic zones and a
background zone were delimited according to Ghanaian geology, tectonic and
similar-magnitude events. Gutenberg & Richter (1944) magnitude-recurrence
law was derived for each seismic zone. It is confirmed the overestimation
of the seismic hazard in the
Ghanaian building code (BRRI
1990/2006), which proposes for
Accra (Ghana) almost 3 times
the PGA value found in this
project (see Table 1).

Table 1. Comparison of PGA values

PGA for Accra (Ghana)
BRRI 1990/2006 Present project
0.35g 0.12g
Figure 5. Seismic Hazard Curve for PGA

UHS were also derived for the two

hazard levels. The results suggests
Figure 1. Plot of compiled earthquake catalogue Figure 2. Seismic zones delimitation higher values in that period range of
0.1s - 0.3s, which means that low-rise
3.2. Ground Motion Prediction Equations (GMPEs) structures will be affected the most for
Two ground-motion predictive models for rock sites were selected for PGA events with the specified return
and PSA estimation. Both models were suitable for Stable Continental periods (Tr).
Regions, such as Ghana. Table 2. Acceleration values for UHS (g)
Atkinson and Boore (2006) PGA and PSA (T) values for UHS

= + + + + + + + + 10% Probability of 2% Probability of

Period (s) exceedance in 50 exceedance in 50
+ . + + years (Tr=475 years) years (Tr=2475 years)

Silva et al. (2002) 0.0 (PGA) 0.12 0.39

= + + + + + ( ) + 0.1 0.3 0.87

0.2 0.19 0.64
0.4 0.05 0.2
3.3. Logic trees and Monte Carlo simulation-based PSHA 1 0.0058 0.0243
Figure 6. UHS for two hazard levels
2 0.0016 0.0077
Epistemic uncertainties of GMPEs Earthquake
were considered using a logic tree Earthquake
approach. MATLAB Earthquake
To calculate the seismic hazard, an code
Derived from G&R
extended catalogue of 5000 years recurrence law and Deaggregation results for
seismicity of each zone
and 1000 simulations were Extended earthquake PGA were calculated. Figure
performed using a MATLAB code Max. value 7 shows that low-magnitude
Annual outcomes sorted in

with a Monte Carlo simulation events (Mw between 3 and 4)

decreasing severity

approach. within 1-5 km from Accra, the
Ground motion capital of Ghana, contribute
GMPEs the most to the seismic
Computation of hazard.
50% AB06 seismic hazard
Min. value
Seismic zones
characterization Figure 4. Representation of Monte Carlo simulation
50% SEA02 In MATLAB code
Figure 7. Deaggregation results for PGA

Figure 3. Logic tree approach

Atkinson, G. M. and Boore, D. M. 2006. Earthquake ground-motion prediction equations for eastern North
The results derived from the PSHA confirmed the seismic hazard America. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 96, pp. 21812205.
overestimation proposed by current Ghanaian standards. Additional Gutenberg, G.B. and Richter, C.F. 1944. Frequency of earthquakes in California. Bulletin of the Seismological
Society of America, 34(4), pp. 185-188.
seismic guidance was derived, such as Uniform Hazard Spectrums for Silva, W. J., Gregor, N., and Darragh, R. 2002. Development of Regional Hard Rock Attenuation Relations for
10% and 2% probability of exceedance in 50 years, suitable for Central and Eastern North America. Technical Report, Pacific Engineering and Analysis, El Cerrito, CA.
residential infrastructure and essential facilities, respectively. This study
has provided up-to-date information for the refinement of the building
code and for proper seismic design in the country.