Newton Fund - Rapid Earthquake Risk Assessment and Post-Earthquake Disaster Management Framework for Substandard Buildings in Turkey

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Civil and Structural Engineering


As a consequence of population growth and urbanisation, our exposure to the seismic hazard is increasing, with the greatest risk arising from substandard constructions. Substandard reinforced concrete (RC) structures account for a large proportion of the existing building stock in urban and suburban regions of Turkey. Such structures are known to be highly vulnerable and have experienced catastrophic damage during past earthquakes (Kocaeli 1999, Duzce 1999, and Van 2011) leading to inexcusably extensive human, economic and societal losses given that the Turkish Seismic Design Code (1997) was revised in 2007 to introduce more stringent requirements for seismic design and mitigate vulnerability. However, the benefits of modern codes and more stringent code enforcement and inspection during design and construction will only benefit society in the future, whilst the current stock remains highly vulnerable. Consequently, there is an urgent need for reliable vulnerability assessments, appropriate seismic risk management strategies and fast rapid post-disaster response to significantly reduce potential losses in future severe earthquakes.
The aim of this collaboration is to synergise complementary expertise of leading institutions in Turkey and the UK in the field of Earthquake Engineering and Seismic Risk Assessment and Crisis Management so as to develop, an innovative, integrated and efficient framework for multi-hazard seismic risk assessment and disaster mitigation in Turkey. Rapid earthquake risk assessment and post-earthquake disaster intelligence obtained from real-time data from smart devices will be coupled for the first time. This synergy will contribute to the coordination of post-earthquake search and rescue actions, enhance situational awareness and to validate earthquake risk assessment predictions.
A new methodology for rapid assessment of structures will be created considering all components of primary/secondary earthquake hazards (e.g. landslides and liquefaction), structural vulnerability and financial/economic aspects. A previously developed comprehensive rapid risk assessment framework for substandard buildings will be used to provide a benchmark for calibration and optimisation of the developed framework. Pre/post-earthquake inventory data collected from substandard buildings in Turkey (region of Marmara) and high-quality seismological information from in-field measurements will be used in the calibration/optimisation process.

The project will also address communication and knowledge modelling for crisis management, thus ensuring an efficient use of the data obtained from the high-level earthquake risk assessment. An innovative approach will be used to combine field/experimental observations and real-time data from mobile devices and advanced apps widely used for social networking. Such real-time data will be used to further calibrate the developed framework, to coordinate search/rescue actions and to increase situational awareness around the crisis. The use of social media data analysis for post-crisis management of stress, trauma and recovery will help create a more resilience society in Turkey.

The new framework will be used to provide optimal mitigation strategies to reduce economic losses and manage the social impacts of earthquakes in Turkey, and the framework can be extended to the rest of the world.Recommendations for social/disaster management and efficient communication of risk mitigation strategies will be provided to people/government before severe earthquakes.

Planned Impact

Turkish society, insurance industry, consultants, contractors, engineers, practitioners and governmental agencies are the most likely non-academic beneficiaries of the proposed research. The outcomes of the proposed project will benefit Turkish society through reducing damage to buildings, which leads to long-term economic stability and a safer environment for poor communities living in the vicinity of developing zones of metropolitan cities. By reducing seismic risk and providing better crisis management systems, a more resilient society will be created. This research will also provide advice to the public and connect them with the responsible authorities for controlling/managing earthquake hazards and post-earthquake crisis.
The developed framework will provide efficient risk evaluation tools for decision-makers, government, insurance industry and practitioners to reduce earthquake-related losses and promote sustainable development in Turkey. However, the framework can be easily extended to other seismic regions. The high-level rapid risk assessment framework will provide valuable information for decision-makers to prioritise and optimise options for disaster/risk mitigation. Post-earthquake disaster management tools will provide valuable real-time information about different failure modes of buildings following to an earthquake that cannot be obtained by post-earthquake field visits. This information will be used as feedback for the developed rapid risk assessment framework.
The provision of post-earthquake disaster management tools will empower both communities and emergency services to communicate and inform one another bringing about enhanced situational awareness for crisis management. This will improve the emergency services, post-earthquake disaster management and the coordination of search and rescue actions resulting in an improved crisis response benefitting the communities who are affected by the earthquake and increasing their resilience. The disaster management tools can also assist emergency services in the management of other crisis situations.
The lead institutions collaborating in this project have strong reputation for working with international teams to maximise their research impact. The positional impacts of the proposed project in the short (3 years) and long (15 years) terms are focused on four main areas:

Society: Improve the overall quality of lives of poor populations by ensuring more resilient buildings where people can work and live safely.
-Short term (ST): Better protection for low income people living in the vicinity of developing zones of metropolitan cities due to reduced risk of primary and secondary hazards occurring as a result of an earthquake. New research and risk assessment jobs in government and insurance institution will be created. Therefore, unemployment rate will fall.
-Long term (LT): Safer environment and job stability, resulting in lower crime rates.

Economy: Contribute to competitiveness, economic development and social welfare of Turkey by providing improved tools for high-level seismic risk assessment to reduce future potential damage and losses during strong earthquakes.
-ST: The creation of new jobs will provide excellent employment and training opportunities in Turkey.
-LT: Growth and economic stability though more resilient cities.

Knowledge: Improve knowledge in the field of rapid seismic risk assessment and mitigation for buildings and post disaster crisis management.
-ST: Accuracy and reliability of rapid risk assessment methods will be enhanced.
-LT: Novel methodologies will be created and transferred to other areas and countries.

People: Enable training of next generation of researchers and engineers in the field of seismic risk and crises management:
-ST: PDRA and postgraduate students will be trained in the UK and Turkish institutions.
-LT: A centre of excellence in Seismic Risk Assessment and Management will be established in Turkey.
Description Key findings related to project objectives:
Obj1. Enhancing the GTU rapid assessment tools: GTU modified the modules of their rapid assessment tools to accommodate the new ERA developed in the project. As a last step, vulnerability/fragility curves developed in WP1 Task1-3 were implemented into the rapid assessment tool.
Obj2. Classify the building stock in Marmara region: ITU classified the different types of substandard buildings in Marmara and created a database for future use in vulnerability studies (Obj3). UoS developed a database for the up-to-date building stock in Marmara using object recognition techniques. A Python code was written for image recognition.
Obj3. Develop vulnerability relationships for key substandard building classes: UoS and ITU reviewed the existing vulnerability relationships for substandard buildings in Turkey. These curves were used by the team to assess risk for different types of structures. UoS and ITU teams developed vulnerability relationships for each class of categorised building stock.
Obj4 &5. Apply the probabilistic ERA framework for the region of Marmara: Fine refinements were made on the earthquake hazard assessment tool to take into account near-field rupture directivity effects. Time-dependent and Poison models are analysed to predict seismic hazard for 10% and 2% in 50 years' probability of exceedance. A noticeable difference between PGA values obtained using the Poisson and time-dependent models was observed, even though nearly two decades was passed since 1999 Kocaeli earthquake. Time-dependent annual rates for fault segments in Kocaeli area are about one third of annual rate used in Poisson model. As a result of this, lower hazard levels are obtained in time-dependent model for the eastern part of Marmara region. On the other hand, hazard levels are slightly elevated in the western part of Marmara region, when we use time-dependent model, due to the fact there are no fault ruptures since 18th century. In both models, seismic hazard predicted for Istanbul metropolitan area remains relatively high ranging between 0.3g and 0.5g for 475 years return period, which creates a high risk for this densely populated area. The hazard level for Istanbul area is considerably higher in the time-dependent model than those obtained using the Poisson model. This is due to the fact that unruptured NAF fault segments in Marmara Sea have higher probability of generating M>7 events. In addition to liquefaction, landslides have been added to the framework by following a two different approach. Based on the available data, Liquefaction and Landslide hazard maps were prepared for the city of Adapazari and the Marmara region. UoS used this information (plus data vulnerability) to assess seismic risk for selected areas of Marmara for different earthquake scenarios (Obj14).
Obj 6. Develop, calibrate and optimise a Rapid Assessment Methodology to be used for both pre and post earthquake evaluations: After the completion of Obj 1, rapid assessment methodology were calibrated and optimized using AFAD-Red and past events.
Obj7,8 & 9. Develop vulnerability mitigation strategies based in seismic retrofit / Develop optimal risk mitigation strategies / Validate selected strengthening solutions: ITU carried out a cost analysis for different strengthening solutions based on previous experience and expert opinion. UoS and ITU teams assessed the most promising strengthening solutions. These were used by UoS/ITU to develop new vulnerability curves for strengthened buildings so as to develop optimal mitigation strategies (Obj8) and to validate strengthening solutions (Obj9)
Obj10, 11 &12. Develop innovative disaster management capability for monitoring, processing, aggregating and analysing earthquake-related data from social media sources and specific smart devices for crisis management through an Earthquake Information Processing and Analysis Centre (EIPAC) / Develop a Mobile Application for Earthquake Management / Develop a Post-Earthquake Control Centre Dashboard (PECCD): Currently, the final version of the mobile application is ready in iOS and Android environments. Also, the application is available to Android users with both English and Turkish versions. The developed App was used to capture social media content from the earthquake happened in Turkey on Sep 26, 2019. The areas affected by the earthquakes can be identified using the App. Therefore, responsible authorities can use the App to direct emergency services to the most critical areas during an earthquake. SHU and GTU integrated the app into the framework. As a result, rapid assessment tools for the estimation of earthquake losses are improved (Obj1). Practicing engineers, insurance companies, governmental agencies and academics can use the developed framework to mitigate future earthquake related risks.
Exploitation Route The findings from this project can be used by others in the near future, for instance:
- The databank of classified building stock and corresponding vulnerability curves for Marmara region can be used by other researchers and academics for further (more refined) risk assessment studies.
- The validated strengthening techniques and optimal mitigation strategies can be included in future revisions of the Turkish code.
- The probabilistic ERA framework for the region of Marmara can be potentially used by Turkish engineers to compare and update the current seismic hazard map included in the Turkish design code.
- The mobile app to collect crowd-sourced data will be freely available to the general public, eyewitness, rescue workers, structural engineers and other personnel on the ground. The gathered information provides a significant level of real-time situational awareness to those coordinating the emergency/rescue actions. The App can report on number or location of casualties, severity of structural damage (through photos/videos) during an earthquake so as to direct relief to the most needed areas.
-Probabilistic Ground Shaking, Liquefaction and Landslide hazard maps were prepared for the Marmara region. -Analytical building models, which can take into account typical structural deficiencies of Turkish building stock, were developed.
Sectors Construction,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Financial Services, and Management Consultancy,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice

Description The findings of the project have had a tangible positive impact in the cultural, societal and educational areas, both at the local and international levels. For instance, at the local level, the findings of this study helped delivering a Basic Training Course on Earthquake Engineering for a non-specialist audience at the UoS (Oct 2016-March 2017). Participants learnt about earthquake-related risks, their social and economic impact, risk mitigation strategies. The contribution from SHU created awareness of the use of new technologies and crowd-sourcing in the field of earthquake engineering. As part of the course, the general public and Sheffield volunteers from a local school (Birkdale) also received training in seismic strengthening techniques of small concrete structures. This prepared the volunteers for an international field mission (March-April 2017) to damaged areas in Nepal. The volunteers transferred knowledge to locals and raise awareness of seismic mitigation strategies. The volunteers collected data in the following research priorities to understand risk in developing countries: Use of Traditional Materials, Strengthening Techniques, Architectural Aspects, Socio-Economic Effects, Rapid Assessment. Volunteers feedback was received. The information was used for research and undergrad/postgrad teaching at UoS and SHU to improve construction practices in the developing world. Regarding personal development and education, both UK and Turkish institutions trained joint PhD and MSc students in the field of earthquake risk assessment and management, which provided excellent employment and training opportunities for Turkish young researchers. A new 4th year MEng/MSc level module in the field of earthquake risk assessment and management has been developed and it has been delivered at the UoS since the Spring Semesters of the 2017-18 academic year. This module is still very popular at the UoS. This module will become a core module for MSc Hazards and Resilience Course in Academic year 2020-2021. The development of the new earthquake risk assessment and management framework in this project will enhance the efficiency and cost effectiveness of the current risk assessment methodologies in Turkey. This will directly contribute to the economic development and social welfare of Turkey as insurance/reinsurance companies will have reliable data that can potentially reduce the cost of premiums, in turn benefiting the general population. The dissemination website of the project ( holds public information of the project that could be freely available such as project outline, project partners, press releases, online discussion forums, and information on forthcoming events. An international workshop on Seismic Loss, Rehabilitation and Post-earthquake Crisis Management was organised in Istanbul between 20-24 Nov 2017. This workshop brought together early career researcher from the UK and Turkey. This workshop was a great opportunity for them to exchange knowledge, expertise and best practices. Finally, the main hindrance to achieve impact is the lack of funding and funding cuts for the Turkish partners of the project. The findings of the project were used in recently developed MSc Level "Earthquake Engineering and Risk Management" module at the Department of Civil and Structural Engineering of the UoS. Based on project findings a journal paper was published in a peer-reviewed journal.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Construction,Education,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

Description Newton Fund Researcher Links Workshop on " Seismic Loss, Rehabilitation and Post-earthquake Crisis Management of Critical Infrastructure"
Amount £43,200 (GBP)
Funding ID RLWK6 - 261878918 
Organisation British Council 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2017 
End 02/2018
Title Probabilistic Seismic Hazard Analysis (PSHA) Methodology based on Monte-Carlo approach 
Description A seismic hazard assessment for Marmara region was developed as part of the Earthquake Risk Assessment (ERA) framework implemented in this project. This framework uses a methodology for calculating seismic risk in developing countries where limited earthquake data are available. For this project, an earthquake catalogue analysis has been performed for Marmara region which included magnitude conversion, catalogue completeness and declustering. In addition, seismic source zones as well as Poissonian and Time-dependent seismic hazard maps have been produced. A Probabilistic Seismic Hazard Analysis (PSHA) methodology was established based on a Monte-Carlo approach together with a novel approach to represent the geometry of fault ruptures. Pulse-like ground motions, that are usually observed at sites located near a fault and often causing severe damage to the structures were also addressed. Another novelty aspect of the project is that secondary hazards (e.g. liquefaction and landslides) are also considered in the hazard calculations. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact .. 
Title Substandard reinforced concrete buildings inventory database 
Description The database contains comprehensive details about 74 RC buildings in Marmara region, which is gathered by partner research group at ITU, Istanbul, Turkey. The details are contains site investigations , reports of material tests (concrete core test, etc), detailing of the structural systems for each building. These information were collected from municipalities and private consultancy firms with site visits. The database will be used while deriving advanced dynamic vulnerability curves and only the results of the research will be published while the database will remain confidential between research partner ITU and research group at The University of Sheffield. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Analytically derived vulnerability curves for substandard RC buildings could be validated with this detailed database which is not available publicly for many researchers in this area. 
Description ITU-Professor Alper Ilki and his research team 
Organisation Istanbul Technical University
Country Turkey 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The USFD invited ITU to write up a collaborative research proposal under the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) funded by the British Council. The USFD will: 1. Conduct a critical evaluation of current hazard assessment methodologies used in the two countries using advanced methodologies (developed recently by USFD). 2. Provide an assessment of the impact of mitigation measures on risk, the vulnerability curves will be adapted to include the effects of novel strengthening techniques: local low-cost natural fibres/materials, steel/concrete jacketing, post-tensioned metal strapping, shear walls, FRP/TRM composites, sprayed GFRC, and prefabricated SFRC plates.
Collaborator Contribution Available analytical and experimental data from current projects between USFD and ITU will be initially used to calibrate and evaluate the effectiveness of the vulnerability reduction strategies. ITU will critically evaluate the current seismic vulnerability curves and strengthening techniques and update vulnerability curves using existing data from their databases.
Impact Proposal title: "An integrated seismic disaster preparedness and response framework for more resilient infrastructure and societies in developing countries".This collaborative research project aims at developing mechanisms for the transfer of knowledge and expertise between leading institutions in Turkey (Istanbul Technical University-ITU) and Iran (Sharif University of Technology-SUT) with the expert support from UK institutions (University of Sheffield-USFD and Sheffield Hallam University-SHU) in the field of Earthquake Engineering and Seismic Risk Assessment and Crisis Management so as to develop an integrated seismic disaster preparedness and response framework for more resilient infrastructure and societies in developing countries. The project will examine societal and infrastructural vulnerabilities using internationally recognised disaster frameworks. Recommendations will be made on measures needed to mitigate risks arising from infrastructure and societal vulnerabilities.
Start Year 2016
Description Middle East Technical University-Asst.Prof. Tugce Sevil Yaman 
Organisation Middle East Technical University
Country Turkey 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution UoS and Prof Sevil Yaman have started working on a project in the field of earthquake risk assessment and management
Collaborator Contribution UoS and Prof Sevil Yaman are working on a joint Newton Fund Mobility Grant application (UoS is the host institution)
Impact Collaboration has recently started
Start Year 2016
Description Participating in research proposals with Gebze Technical University (Turkey) 
Organisation Gebze Technical University
Country Turkey 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution GTU invited the USFD to participate in a Twinning proposal (H2020) to enhance its scientific and research capacity: the USFD will contribute in the following topics: 1. Research proposal training: The USFD will provide training on designing, planning and developing research projects by adopting the "learning by doing" approach; 2. Deliver Training Events: such as Research-focused workshops, staff exchanges and ESRs training; 3. Initiative Roadmap: create a roadmap of proposal calls and future initiatives and identify potential project partners; 4. Knowledge transfer: transfer the knowledge of applying innovative strengthening techniques for earthquake damaged infrastructure. The best practices which can lead to successful implementation of research projects (at both national and international level), will be identified as well as a strategy on establishing/maintaining close relations with industrial key players. 5. Hub gateway: Provide and support transnational access to the infrastructure and R&D capacity of the Hub by establishing high-quality international collaboration and access to high-quality information and services for interested parties (research, industry, authorities, etc.); 6. Researcher development actions: Improve the research profiles of GTU staff emphasising on their ESR team. This will be achieved through publications in scientific journals/conferences, networking and exposure at International level.
Collaborator Contribution GTU will give the USFD access to Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) associated databases, including use of the AFAD-RED software which can provide rapid damage and loss assessments following an earthquake and can also be used for scenario studies using information on population, building inventories, active faults and geology available at a national level.
Impact GTU and USFD will collaborate in a Twinning proposal entitled "Smart Platform for Disaster Mitigation of Industrial Zones" to enhance GTU's scientistic profile and work towards the production of a smart platform for earthquake data, risk assessment and disaster mitigation. The USFD will also organise an international workshop at Gebze Technical University, Turkey in April, 2018.
Start Year 2013
Description Research Partnership with Dr Derya Deniz (Ozyegin University, Istanbul, Turkey) 
Organisation Ozyegin University
Country Turkey 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution UoS and Dr Derya Deniz (Ozyegin University, Istanbul, Turkey) have started working on a project proposal in the field of earthquake risk assessment and management
Collaborator Contribution UoS and Dr Derya Deniz (Ozyegin University, Istanbul, Turkey) are working on a Royal Society Newton Advanced Fellowship application (UoS is the UK partner)
Impact Royal Society Newton Advanced Fellowship proposal
Start Year 2019
Description Delivery of a series of Basic Training Courses on Earthquake Engineering (USFD) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The USFD ran a series of two-hour courses on earthquake-related material from October 2016 to March 2017 which was open to the public. The seminars were delivered by international experts from the CEE (Concrete and Earthquake Engineering) group and guest speakers. The CEE group is based at USFD and has been working on innovative seismic strengthening techniques and risk management studies for over 20 years. Participants learned about earthquake risks, their social and economic impact and risk mitigation strategies. The last session of the course consisted of hands-on laboratory training in seismic strengthening of small concrete elements. The CEE group in collaboration with Birkdale School, organised a field mission with student volunteers to Nepal to actively contribute to the post-earthquake relief efforts and supporting schools there. The course was open to secondary education students, parents and the general public. Average attendance was around 100-120 people per session.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2016,2017
Description International Workshop on Seismic Hazard and Risk Assessment for Industrial Facilities 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 40 professionals, industry stakeholders and students attended a Newton Fund Researcher Links Workshop on "Seismic Loss, Rehabilitation and Post-earthquake Crisis Management of Critical Infrastructure" in held at Gebze Technical University on 04 April 2018. The event sparked questions and discussion afterwards, particularly related to the release of the new Turkish seismic design standards. Various participants and the Gebze Chamber of Commerce expressed their interest in collaborating with the project partners.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
Description International Workshop on Seismic Loss, Rehabilitation and Post-Earthquake Crisis Management of Critical Infrastructure 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact In November 2017, over 50 researchers from universities across the United Kingdom and Turkey met in Istanbul, Turkey, to discuss 'Seismic Loss, Rehabilitation and Post-Earthquake Crisis Management of Critical Infrastructure'.
The workshop included contributions from experienced researchers, who summarized the state of the art on seismic risk assessment, design and strengthening of critical infrastructure in the UK and Turkey, and over 30 early career academics, who shared their work and innovative ideas on a variety of aspects, including the societal impact resulting from adopting different strengthening techniques and post-disaster mitigation strategies. The contribution of engineering consultants, civil engineers, mechanical engineers and social scientists gave this event a truly multidisciplinary dimension.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
Description Visit to Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute (KOERI), Bogaziçi University 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The UoS team visited the Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute (KOERI) at Bogaziçi University. The Observatory hosts the Regional Earthquake-Tsunami Monitoring Center, as well as state-of-the-art testing facilitites. Discussions between the UoS team and Prof Erdal Safak's team will lead to potential collaborations and funding opportunities in several areas of earthquake engineering.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2017