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Dr John Douglas

Strathclyde Chancellor'S Fellow

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Personal statement

Welcome to my university webpages.

I am a Chancellor’s Fellow (Lecturer) in the Centre for Intelligent Infrastructure within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. My principal research interests are improving hazard and risk evaluations for natural perils, in particular earthquakes (engineering seismology and earthquake engineering). Through various knowledge exchange activities (including consultancies) I seek to apply my skills in practice, e.g. within seismic hazard assessments for high-value infrastructure. My teaching and administrative responsibilities include being departmental exchange coordinator.

I completed my PhD in engineering seismology in 2001 at Imperial College London, following a BSc. Hons (first class) in Mathematics also at Imperial College London. Following two years as a post-doctoral researcher at Imperial, I was a senior engineering seismologist at BRGM (French Geological Survey) from 2004 until 2015 during which time I was involved in research, public service and commercial projects in many aspects of risk evaluation for various natural perils. From 2009 to 2014 I was a visiting professor at the Earthquake Engineering Research Centre, University of Iceland.

Please visit the Expertise tab for a list of my research interests and the Research tab, the Teaching tab and the Publications tab to obtain more details. An summary on the importance of my research for earthquake risk reduction can be read on Science Trends, a recent presentation on my research is available for view here and some introductory slides are available for download from figshare. My contribution to a panel discussion on the impact of induced seismicity for the insurance industry can be viewed here. A recent open-access article on ground motions from large earthquakes is available for free download here.

Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in research or knowledge exchange (e.g. consultancy) collaborations. I am particularly interested to hear from fully-funded students interested in doing a PhD under my supervision. A fully-funded PhD studentship in engineering seismology can currently be applied for. Please consult this page concerning applications ("How can I apply?" tab) and fees ("Fees & funding tab). Information on potential scholarships is available on this page (select "Postgraduate Research" in the "Level of study" drop-down menu). N.B. If you can start your PhD before March 2018 and meet the eligibility criteria you may wish to apply for this fully-funded PhD studentship


Has expertise in:

Prizes and awards

Young Researcher Prize (Prix du Jeune Chercheur)

more prizes and awards


Peak ground accelerations from large (M≥7.2) shallow crustal earthquakes : a comparison with predictions from eight recent ground-motion models
Douglas John, Boore David M.
Bulletin of Earthquake Engineering Vol 16, pp. 1-21, (2018)
Do French macroseismic intensity observations agree with expectations from the European Seismic Hazard Model 2013?
Rey Julien, Beauval Céline, Douglas John
Journal of Seismology, (2018)
Inferring earthquake ground motion fields with Bayesian Networks
Gehl Pierre, Douglas John, D'Ayala Dina
Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America Vol 107, pp. 2792-2808, (2017)
Examining the assumption of homogeneous horizontal layers within seismic site response analysis
Volpini Carolina, Douglas John
3rd International Conference on Performance-based Design in Earthquake Geotechnical Engineering, (2017)
Using targeted risk in seismic design codes : a summary of the state of the art and outstanding issues
Douglas John, Gkimprixis Athanasios
6th National Conference on Earthquake Engineering and 2nd National Conference on Earthquake Engineering and Seismology, pp. 3-10, (2017)
Stress accumulation in the Marmara Sea estimated through ground-motion simulations from dynamic rupture scenarios
Aochi Hideo, Douglas John, Ulrich Thomas
Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth Vol 122, pp. 2219–2235, (2017)

more publications


Departmental exchange (Erasmus and international) advisor

CL329/CL332 Engineering Mathematics (Statistics), Year 3, 10 credits/5 ECTS, Semester 2 (sole lecturer)

CL931/CL986/CL939 Qualitative And Quantitative Research Methods, MSc., 10 credits/5 ECTS, Semester 1 (contributing lecturer)

CL448 Individual Project, Year 4, 30 credits/15 ECTS, Semesters 1 and 2 (project advisor)

CL516 MEng Dissertation, 20 credits/10 ECTS, Semesters 1 and 2 (project advisor)

CL944/CL980 MSc dissertation, 60 credits/30 ECTS, Summer period (project advisor)

Research interests

To evaluate the potential impact of a natural peril (e.g. an earthquake) it is necessary to consider the following three aspects:

  • hazard (e.g. how the ground shakes during an earthquake);
  • vulnerability (e.g. how a building responds to this shaking); and
  • exposure (e.g. how many of these buildings are in the zone of interest).

The combination of these three factors provides an estimate of the risk, which expresses the chance that a certain undesirable event (e.g. building collapse) may occur.

It is important to distinguish between the hazard, which cannot be altered, and the risk, which can be reduced (mitigated) by lower the vulnerability and exposure of the building stock. My research aims to improve earthquake risk evaluation for engineering purposes, in particular through the reduction of uncertainties in seismic hazard assessments. It is important that the hazard is neither over- nor under-estimated. Examples of the latter are dramatically displayed by damage to buildings that were constructed in accordance with the expected ground motion in the region. An over-estimated hazard leads to higher construction costs for seismic resistance, which consumes resources that could be better spent tackling other problems.

At Strathclyde I am particularly interested in problems related to hazard and risk assessments for the power and energy sector. For example, high-importance power facilities such as nuclear power plants must consider the impact of earthquakes (e.g. recent consultancy concerning Hinkley Point C). Another research focus is induced seismicity from projects in the geothermal and shale gas sectors.

As an engineering seismologist, one of my main interests is improving ground-motion prediction, i.e. providing better models of the shaking to expect at a site given a particular earthquake at a certain distance. Such models are a basis of seismic hazard assessment. I maintain a compendium of published models, which now number many hundreds.

Professional activities

16th European Conference on Earthquake Engineering
Member of programme committee
16th European Conference on Earthquake Engineering
Invited speaker
Invited talk entitled "Calibrating the backbone approach for the development of earthquake ground motion models"
External examiner (rapporteur) for the PhD viva of Levent Isbiliroglu
External Examiner
Engineering Structures (Journal)
Peer reviewer
International Journal of Disaster Risk Science (Journal)
Peer reviewer

more professional activities


Consultancy for Fircroft
Douglas, John (Principal Investigator)
Reviewer of the ground-motion prediction part of the Groningen induced seismicity risk assessment
Period 06-Jul-2015 - 28-Oct-2015

more projects


Civil and Environmental Engineering
James Weir Building

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