Seismic hazard across Bulgaria and neighbouring areas: Extreme magnitude recurrence and strong ground shaking

Paul W. Burton, Thomas J. Bayliss

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A contemporary probabilistic seismic hazard assessment (PSHA) study for Bulgaria and the surrounding Balkan area is performed under constraints of a newly developed, fit-for-purpose historical earthquake catalogue and the theory of extreme values. Sensitivity analyses are first adopted as preparatory reviews on subsets of the adopted data to determine suitable values for the constraints of cut-off magnitude threshold, sample extreme interval and start year of catalogue data to impose on the parent database for both the full region considered as well as significant urban centres within it. Maximum estimates are then determined for magnitude recurrence hazard using Gumbel's third asymptotic extreme values distribution for return periods of 50 and 100 years, and also these time intervals at 90 % probability of not being exceeded (PNBE). Gumbel's first asymptotic extreme values distribution is also used with carefully selected, geographically relevant ground motion models for peak horizontal ground acceleration, PGA(h), and peak horizontal ground velocity, PGV(h), for the same return periods. The former provides direct comparison with the current EUROCODE 8 anti-seismic building code standard promoted across Europe, the previous GSHAP and SESAME hazard mapping projects as well as a number of recent studies. Sofia is forecast an upper bound magnitude of 7.33 Mw (±0.78) compared with 7.31 Mw (±0.55) for the full Balkan extent and 7.24 Mw (±0.70) for the political triple junction area of southwest Bulgaria, viz., Bulgaria, Greece and The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Sofia is also forecast a 475-year return period (equivalent to a 50-year return period at 90 % PNBE) magnitude of 7.27 Mw, with an equivalent PGA (the standard EUROCODE 8 metric) of 156 cm s-2 and PGV of 13 cm s-1.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1155-1201
Number of pages47
JournalNatural Hazards
Issue number2
Early online date4 May 2013
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2013


  • Acceleration
  • Balkan
  • Bulgaria
  • Extreme values theory
  • Magnitude recurrence
  • Seismic hazard
  • Sofia
  • Velocity

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