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Assessing the value of data for engineering seismology

The aim of this project is to develop a practical approach to estimate the economic value of data used within engineering seismology, i.e. the assessment of the earthquake loading that a structure or infrastructure may be subjected to during its lifetime.

Number of places



6 August 2018


3 years


Applicants should have (or expect) a distinction at Master’s level, or a first class BEng/BSc Honours degree, or equivalent, in an Engineering or Physical Sciences subject, with a high mathematical content. Prior knowledge or experience in engineering seismology, seismic hazard, risk assessment or economics would be advantageous but not essential. Previous experience of computer programming would be particularly welcome. Overseas applicants should submit IELTS results (minimum 6.5) if applicable.

Project Details

This PhD provides an opportunity to join a group of other students investigating various aspects of engineering seismology and earthquake engineering. It would particularly suit a highly-numerate student who is keen to work in the exciting and rapidly changing topic of seismic hazard assessments as well as its economic aspects.

´╗┐The shaking that occurs in the epicentral region of large earthquakes can be highly destructive to civil engineering infrastructure. Sophisticated methods have been developed to assess the risk posed to infrastructure from future earthquakes. These methods combine an assessment of the earthquake ground motions that could occur during the lifetime of the structure (along with their probability of occurrence) with the chance that these ground motions could cause damage. This project is mainly concerned with the first of these steps: seismic hazard assessment but the developed method may have applications in other fields of engineering.

 The collection of new data reduces the uncertainties of seismic hazard assessments. These reduced uncertainties may potentially lower the cost of the planned infrastructure either now (by lower construction costs and/or insurance premiums) or in the future (by reduced damage that costs money to repair). Therefore, these input data have an economic value but currently this value is unknown. This unknown value means that it is difficult to justify the collection of new data within a project. This is a problem that occurs in many fields of engineering where there is an upfront cost but whose benefit is difficult to assess. The aim of this project is to investigate this problem and analogues in other fields and to propose a practical method to estimate the value of data and test this method for various data types, locations and hypothetical projects.


Funding Details

This project is unfunded.

How to apply

Please contact John Douglas for information on how to apply for this position.