Harmonization of Seismic Hazard Maps for the Western Balkan countries

Chapters :


Destructive earthquakes occur every 10 to 15 years in the Western Balkans

Strong earthquakes continuously endanger human lives, weaken economies and threaten security. During the last century, a large number of earthquakes have occurred in the western Balkans. The last one with magnitude 7.0, struck Montenegro in 1979 causing deaths and crippling financial losses; the memories of which are still fresh in the minds of the local people today.


What is being done

Currently, the level of earthquake research capacity in the Western Balkans is far below European standards, resulting in insufficient quality of seismic hazard assessment and limitations in the field of disaster management.  Existing seismic hazard maps for the region are out of date and there is therefore an immediate urgency to update them.  Recently acquired seismic and other data should be integrated and implemented in hazard assessment, and a new methodological approach and empirical ground-shaking models for hazard assessment should be implemented.

The seismic hazard maps should be in accordance with EU standards (EUROCODE 8) and risk estimation and risk management should be based on reliable hazard maps.  The countries within the region will collaborate on the scientific level and results will be exchanged.  In particular young scientists from the region will be trained in seismic hazard assessment to improve capacity building and mitigate the “brain-drain” in the region.

A critical output for success will be a consistent GIS (Geographic Information System) database of earthquake catalogue information for the participant countries.  Contrary to previous catalogues, these will share the same methodology and will be consistent from one country to another.

Working with other international organizations

This project was initiated within the framework of the Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Initiative of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe, which was established in 1999, to bring about peace, democracy, human rights, and economic prosperity to achieve a greater level of stability for the entire region.

End results

Results of the project will be available to end-users in all participating countries.  The end-users will mainly include earthquake engineers and urban planners.  Civil protection agencies and national agencies for disaster preparedness and prevention will use the hazard maps to estimate the seismic risk and identify other risks that may occur during a quake.  The real-time information that will be made available following a large earthquake will ensure that the institutions specializing in rapid response are able to carry out their role more effectively.

Most importantly, the final results will be of a highly practical nature, such as:

  • seismic hazard assessment software will be installed in all participating institutions;
  • seismic instrumentation purchased through the project will be installed in participating countries;
  • research capabilities in the institutions will be strengthened through the establishment of cross-border working groups;
  • seismic hazard maps will be published locally as well as via scientific publications and conferences.

By 2010 therefore, it is foreseen that this NATO Science for Peace and Security Project will result in the development of a harmonized regional seismic hazard map that will help minimize the loss of human life and social and economic disruption, contributing to stability and security in the western Balkans region.

* Turkey recognizes the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.