Image by hannah grace

Session Details

Test Driving a Rapid Disaster Modelling Methodology for British Columbia Earthquakes

3 November 2020

Webinar Format
Interactive Workshop

Presentation & Discussion

About Contributors

Murray Journeay, Research Scientist, Geological Survey of Canada, NRCan

Murray has spent the last thirty years exploring the geological architecture and evolution of mountain systems in western Canada, and the ways in which communities interact with this landscape in terms of sustainable land use and disaster resilience planning. Research activities with the Geological Survey of Canada have ranged from field-based investigations of regional tectonic processes that drive crustal deformation and related earthquake hazards in Western Canada to computer-based modelling of earthquake risk and risk reduction strategies. Murray currently leads the development of a national earthquake risk model for Canada to inform disaster resilience planning in accordance with policy and technical implementation guidelines established as part of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (United Nations, 2015: SFDRR). The model utilizes integrated risk assessment methods and emerging best practices of risk governance to develop a more holistic and empowering view of earthquake risk in Canada.

Tiegan Hobbs, Seismic Risk Scientist, Geological Survey of Canadan NRCan

Tiegan Hobbs, PhD, is a seismic risk scientist with the Geological Survey of Canada. With a background in geophysics, geology, and geotechnical engineering, she seeks to improve our understanding of how natural hazards impact humans and the built environment.

Gurdeep Singh, Province of BC- GeoBC

Gurdeep has been with the BC Provincial Government for over 20 years in various roles. He has been leading the Emergency Management and Business Innovation Portfolio within GeoBC for last 11 years. The Emergency Engagement portfolio includes coordination with Emergency Management and Public Safety stakeholders and develop GIS strategies and implementation plans to support all phases of natural hazard and emergency management. It also includes coordination of data, tools, methods and processes to improve situational awareness and common operating picture to support all phases of Natural Resource Hazard and Emergency Management. He has Masters of Science in Planning from Germany, Advanced Diploma in GIS from British Columbia Institute of Technology and Certificate in Project Management from the University of British Columbia.



  • Introduce the project as well as current roadblocks and provide an open-format opportunity for community feedback.

  • Identify existing tools that can be used in this initiative (e.g. can BCSIMS shakemaps be exported to OpenQuake?) and other groups that might benefit from being brought in as project partners.

  • Identify the types of output that would be needed to make this tool useful for practitioners. (ex: Maps of expected casualties posted on GeoBC’s Common Operating Picture? Or would a simple PAGER-style output on the NRCan website suffice?)

  • Demonstrate the tool by test-driving scenarios, as time permits. 

  • Explore best practice and the feasibility of using rapidly available seismic data in the existing OpenQuake Canada framework to report on key metrics for early response: collapsed buildings, entrapment injuries, hospital demand surge.


This work presents a new initiative to develop a rapid disaster modelling protocol for earthquakes in British Columbia (BC). We will explore best practice and the feasibility of using rapidly available seismic data in the existing OpenQuake Canada framework to model the impacts to people, the built environment, and the economy. The current prototype will integrate observed ground motion data from the BC Smart Infrastructure Monitoring System with physical exposure data from Natural Resources Canada’s (NRCan) Human Settlement Layer to report on key metrics for early response: collapsed buildings, entrapment injuries, hospital demand surge, roadway debris which may block response, and immediate mass care needs like shelter requirements. These indicators will be ported to the GeoBC Common Operating Picture, the online portal for authoritative and coordinated distribution of emergency management information in the province. These outputs could likely be made available within tens of minutes of the earthquake occurring. 


Without this tool, municipalities would have to rely on reports from first responders, reconnaissance along disrupted roadways by emergency personnel, or aerial surveillance performed by the military. The latter is expected to take at least 12 hours, a crucial period following a major earthquake in which situational awareness can be vastly improved by our tool. We hope to get feedback from emergency managers, first responders, and any other regional stakeholders about how this prototype performs and what changes they would like to make to it.


Convened Tiegan Hobbs and Gurdeep Singh, with Murray Journeay