OR/19/038 Summary

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

This report describes a comparison of the software M3C with the software OpenQuake that have been developed for seismic hazard and risk assessment (Pagani at al., 2014[1]). The comparison is made in terms of methodology, IT functionalities of the software packages and hazard results.

The goal of the report is to show that the code M3C, which was developed at the British Geological Survey (BGS) in the second half of the 1990s for probabilistic seismic hazard assessment, compares well with more modern methods as a result of regular updates to incorporate advances in seismic hazard analysis and other state-of-art techniques. The frequent testing and quality assurance of the new features of the code ensures that it is an excellent tool for assessing seismic hazard for commercial and academic projects.

We perform a comparison between M3C and OpenQuake using the source model of the UK developed by Musson and Sargeant (2007)[2]. OpenQuake is an open-source software package for seismic hazard and risk calculations developed by the Global Earthquake Model initiative (Crowley et al., 2013[3]). We perform many tests to compare the implementation of the basic steps of the probabilistic seismic hazard assessment in the two software packages, including the ground motion prediction equations, the fault rupture modelling, and the treatment of epistemic uncertainties in the recurrence statistics.

The main conclusion from the present work is that if input parameters are identical, the outputs from the two software packages are in excellent agreement. When I estimate the relative difference between the outputs, the agreement is good for annual probabilities of exceedance between 10-2 and 10-5, i.e. the range of interest of earthquake engineering, in spite of the differences in the implementation of the methodology and the IT functionalities of M3C and OpenQuake. The discrepancies between the results are explained by: 1) the different magnitude scaling relationship adopted by M3C and OpenQuake; and 2) the use of ground motion predictive equations based on the rupture distance, rather than the Joyner-Boore distance.


  1. PAGANI, M, MONELLI, D, WEATHERILL, G, DANCIU, L, CROWLEY, H, SILVA, V, HENSHAW, P, NASTASI, M, PANZERI, L, and VIGANÒ, D. 2014. OpenQuake engine: An open hazard (and risk) software for Global Earthquake Model. Seismological Research Letters, Vol. 85, 692–702.
  2. MUSSON, RMW, and SARGEANT, S. 2007. Eurocode 8 seismic hazard zoning maps for the UK. British Geological Survey Technical Report, CR/07/125.
  3. CROWLEY, H, PINHO, R, PAGANI, M, and KELLER, N. 2013. Assessing global earthquake risks: The Global Earthquake Model (GEM) initiative. In Handbook of seismic risk analysis and management of civil infrastructure systems. TESTAMARIAM, S, and GODa, K (Woodhead Publishing Limited).