OR/19/038 Introduction

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Mosca, I. 2019. Comparing seismic hazard software packages: M3C vs. OpenQuake. British Geological Survey Internal Report, OR/19/038.

In the last thirty years, many studies for assessing probabilistic seismic hazard have been published (for reviews see Reiter, 1990[1]; Abrahamson, 2000[2]; McGuire, 2004[3]; Bommer et al., 2005[4]) where different criteria are used for characterizing the seismic source zone model (defined by source geometry and source parameters, such as maximum magnitude, recurrence statistics and rupture geometry), the selection of the ground motion prediction equations (GMPEs) for the study area, the treatment of (aleatory and epistemic) uncertainty, and the approach to compute probabilistic seismic hazard assessment (PSHA; e.g. Cornell-McGuire PSHA, and Monte Carlo based PSHA). Even if users select the same method for PSHA and use the same criteria for the required input, further discrepancies may arise from computational aspects of the engine used to encode the PSHA method, such as programming language, coding strategies for numerical integrations and numerical tolerance of the computer program.

The first public domain computer code for seismic hazard assessment was EQRISK developed by McGuire (1976)[5], later modified in FRISK by McGuire (1978)[6]. Since the second half of the 1970s a large number of software packages and codes have been published, e.g. SeisRisk (Bender and Perkins, 1982[7]), PRISK (Principia Mechanica LTD, 1985[8]), NSHMP (Frankel et al., 2002[9]), OpenSHA (Field et al., 2003[10]), EQRM (Robinson et al., 2006[11]), M3C (Musson, 1999[12], 2009[13]), CRISIS (Ordaz et al., 2013[14]), EqHaz (Assatourians and Atkinson, 2013[15]) and OpenQuake (Pagani et al., 2014[16]). Consequently, there are also many studies that compare and validate software packages for PSHA (e.g. Danciu et al., 2010[17]; Thomas et al. 2010[18]; Musson, 2012[19]; Bommer et al., 2013[20]; Monelli et al., 2014[21]). For example, Thomas et al. (2010)[18] compare many free and commercial software packages for PSHA using a simple configuration of areal and fault sources. They find that hazard curves calculated by different codes may diverge even for simple source-site configurations due to the numerical approaches used to solve particular mathematical problems, e.g. the presence or lack of a leaky boundary for fault rupture and the lower limit of integration for the hazard (Thomas et al., 2010[18]). Their verification process can be used to validate current and future codes for PSHA. Danciu et al. (2010)[17] present a review of non-commercial computer programs for PSHA in terms of IT functionalities, methodological aspects of PSHA, and benchmarking exercises. The main conclusion from their study is that a software for PSHA must be open-source, flexible (i.e. it is straightforward to implement new input models and new features), user-friendly, verified (i.e. it should be verified against other codes), and should include the basic seismic hazard requirements (e.g. it should include hazard curves, spectra, maps, and disaggregation of the seismic hazard results, incorporate easily new GMPEs, and account for epistemic uncertainties).

The software M3C for the Monte Carlo-based PSHA was developed by the British Geological Survey (BGS) in the second half of the 1990s (e.g. Musson, 1999[12], 2000[22]). Since then, BGS has routinely undertaken commercial seismic hazard work for engineering, insurance or government projects worldwide using this code (e.g. Musson et al., 2006[23]; Musson & Sargeant, 2007[24]). The goal of the present report is to show that the software M3C is a rigorously tested and state-of-art code that incorporates the recent advances in seismic hazard analysis and therefore its performance is as good as that of recently published software packages.

Musson (2012)[19] compares the hazard between M3C and PRISK (Principia Mechanica Ltd, 1985[8]) using the source model constructed for a nuclear site in southern England by the Seismic Hazard Working Party (SHWP, 1987). Here, I will compare M3C with OpenQuake (Pagani et al., 2014[16]), a recent software package for seismic hazard assessment, that an increasing number of analysts use for seismic hazard projects (e.g. Bommer et al., 2013[20]). Mosca et al. (2015)[25] compare M3C and OpenQuake using a source model developed for southeastern Canada by Atkinson and Goda (2011)[26]. Although the motivations of Mosca et al. (2015)[25] and this work are similar, in the present report we compare extensively more elements of PSHA, how they were implemented in the two software packages and whether they produce the same hazard results, using the source model developed for the UK by Musson and Sargeant (2007)[24].

In Overview of the software packages, I describe similarities and differences between M3C and OpenQuake in terms of the IT functionality and the methodology. Data describes the source zone model for the UK of Musson and Sargeant (2007)[24]. Results shows the hazard results computed from the two software packages and Conclusions provides general conclusions.


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