ShakeMap: an Application for Scientific Modeling & GIS Mapping

The What & Why it’s Needed

A ShakeMap is a representation of ground shaking produced by an earthquake. The information a ShakeMap presents is different from data describing the earthquake magnitude and epicenter that are released after an earthquake because ShakeMap focuses on the geographic distribution of the ground shaking produced by an earthquake, rather than the parameters describing the earthquake source (Worden and others, 2010). So, while an earthquake has one magnitude and one epicenter, ShakeMaps represent the range of ground shaking levels at sites throughout the region depending on distance from the earthquake, the rock and soil conditions at sites, and variations in the propagation of seismic waves from the earthquake due to complexities in the earthquake source and the structure of the Earth’s crust.


Our customers USGS requires near-real-time data products, particularly rapid response ground shaking maps (ShakeMap), and its derivative products (ShakeCast & PAGER). The contractor shall also conduct research and develop tools and techniques to improve our ability to accurately portray and estimate damaging earthquake ground motions.


Synergetics personnel are assigned to help develop the PAGER system that will provide important information to help emergency relief organizations, Government agencies, and the media plan their response to earthquake disasters. PAGER distributes alarms via pager, mobile phone, and e-mail that include a concise estimate of impact: red for severe, yellow for moderate, and green for little or no impact. The alarms also report the earthquake location, magnitude, depth, an estimate of the number of people exposed to varying levels of shaking, a description of the regions fragility, and a measure of confidence in the systems impact assessment. Associated maps of shaking level (ShakeMaps), population density, and susceptibility to landslides are posted on the Internet. This information is available within minutes of the determination of the earthquake location and magnitude. Earthquake solutions are generally available within the hour for significant events and improvements to the real-time earthquake detection system decreases the response time to as little as fifteen minutes.


Synergetics’ staff scientists that support the customer have a demonstrated record of authoritative first-author, peer-reviewed scientific publications, including publications related to the development and documentation of new scientific principles, algorithms and processes such as those used in ShakeMap systems. Bruce Worden has nearly dozens of scientific publications. His recent publications include the paper documenting new Spatial and Spectral Interpolation of Ground Motion Intensity Measure Observations in 2017.


Synergetics maintains and executes a Continuous Risk Management Plan (CRMP) that covers all facets of risk identification, assessment, planning, tracking, control, and mitigation. The CRMP addresses risks associated with cost, resources, schedule, and technical aspects of the project with special emphasis placed on avoiding impact to cost and schedule.


Kabir Mehta, COO