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International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction 4 (2013) 2133

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International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction


journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/ijdrr

Review Article

Multi-scale seismic hazard and risk in the China mainland


with implication for the preparedness, mitigation, and
management of earthquake disasters: An overview
Zhongliang Wu n, Tengfei Ma, Hui Jiang, Changsheng Jiang
Institute of Geophysics, China Earthquake Administration, 100081 Beijing, China

a r t i c l e i n f o abstract

Article history: Earthquake hazard and risk in the China mainland exhibit multi-scale characteristics. Facing the
Received 16 December 2012 complex challenge, several research and application projects have been undertaken since
Received in revised form recent years. Lessons and experiences of the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake contributed much to
27 February 2013
the launching and conducting of these projects. Understandings of the scientific problems and
Accepted 6 March 2013
Available online 14 March 2013
technical approaches taken in the mainstream studies in the China mainland have no signi-
ficant difference from those in the international scientific communities, albeit using of some of
Keywords: the terminologies has distinct cultural differences. Several scientific products have been produ-
China mainland ced serving the society. These scientific products have unique academic merits due to the long-
Multi-scale seismic hazard
term persistence feature and the forward forecast nature, which are essential for the evaluation
Earthquake management
of the related technical performance and the falsification of the scientific ideas. Coping with the
Earthquake science
multi-scale challenge needs the hierarchical actors' network making science and technology
transform to the actions of the public for the preparedness, mitigation, and management of
earthquake disasters, which is still in need of careful design and construction.
& 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Contents

1. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
2. Earthquakes and disasters in the China mainland: the first-order picture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
3. Multi-scale seismic hazard and risk and its consequences . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
3.1. Multi-scale seismic hazard in the China mainland . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
3.2. Consequences of the multi-scale characteristic of seismic hazard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
4. Coping with the challenges: the national-level endeavor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
5. Scientific products serving the society: tested by and improved after the Wenchuan earthquake. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
5.1. Earthquake hazard assessment, seismic zonation, and seismic design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
5.2. Forecast of time-dependent earthquake hazard: decade and annual scale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
5.3. Earthquake forecast/prediction: in Chinese versus in English . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
5.4. Seismological information service: meeting the needs of our web times . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
6. The hierarchical actors network: problems and progresses. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
7. Concluding remarks and discussion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32

n
Corresponding author. Tel.: 86 10 68467980; fax: 86 10 68415372.
E-mail address: wuzl@cea-igp.ac.cn (Z. Wu).

2212-4209/$ - see front matter & 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijdrr.2013.03.002
22 Z. Wu et al. / International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction 4 (2013) 2133

1. Introduction As a result, China has been suffering from earthquake


disasters since the ancient times [7], with the 1556
Regarding the studies and applications in China for the Huaxian, Shaanxi, great earthquake being the most
reduction of earthquake disasters, there have been several destructive on record (with fatality over 820,000 according
misunderstandings, probably due to the language and to historical documentation). The combination of high
cultural barriers. One such misunderstanding is related exposures (due to high population density) and vulner-
to the Zhang Heng seismoscope (A.D.132), the earliest abilities causes higher seismic risk in the China mainland.
known device trying to record earthquakes,1 albeit only a For the 110 years from 1900 to 2010, energy radiated by
primitive version of modern seismometers. In the per- major to great earthquakes in the China mainland
spective of observational seismology this is undoubtedly accounted for about 2.5% of that globally ([79]3 ,4 ), but
correct, but in the perspective of the reduction of earth- caused around 1/3 of the earthquake fatalities of the
quake disasters what is overlooked is that Zhang Heng's world.
device started the transmission of earthquake information It is well-known that earthquake disaster exhibits dif-
by seismic waves, which is much faster (by orders of ferent features at different stages of social development: for
magnitudes) than the most efficient carriers of informa- a developing economy, reduction of fatalities has been one
tion at that timethe (military/royal) postal horses, and, of the challenging issues; for a developed economy, reduc-
near the borders, the beacons (fire) along the Great Wall. tion of the economic and social impact becomes more
As a comparison, in our modern times, real-time digital important. In addition at the present time China is facing
seismograph networks still record seismic waves, but the dual challenges, not only because of its rapid economic
modern carriers of information, such as the internet,2 have development but also because of its huge territory with
been at least as efficient as a seismic network in transmit- diversity in economic and social development. In the west,
ting the information of felt earthquakes (although with recent earthquakes caused tremendous casualties in the
different content of information). May 12, 2008, Wenchuan (Sichuan) MS8.0 earthquake
In the understanding of the reduction of earthquake (69,226 dead, 374,643 injured, and 17,923 missing, data
disasters in the China mainland, the first two questions from Ref. [3]), the April 14, 2010, Yushu (Qinghai) MS7.1
might be what the most important feature of this region is, earthquake (2,698 dead, 12,135 injured and 270 missing5 ),
and how to evaluate the related progresses and challenges, and even the September 7, 2012, Yiliang (Yunnan) MS5.7
both being important for the future. In this review we try and 5.6 earthquakes (81 dead6 ). In the east, fast urbaniza-
to figure out the possible ways to understand these two tion and economic development have made seismic safety
questions. We deal with these two complicated questions one of the critical issues of sustainability. It is noticeable
mainly based on an empirical observation, trying to clarify that in some regions which are regarded as seismically
some misunderstandings about the earthquake science inactive, even moderate magnitude earthquakes may cause
and technology in China. We are not sure to what extent unexpected disasters due to weak prevention, as shown by
this aim could be reached, hoping that this review itself is the November 26, 2005, Jiujiang-Ruichang MS5.7 earth-
not another misleading one. quake (with 13 dead).7 As a result, the social concern
related to seismic hazard in the China mainland can be
2. Earthquakes and disasters in the China mainland: the expressed by the earthquakes over MS7 in the vast western
rst-order picture China (west of 1071E) and those over MS6 in the densely
populated and economically developed eastern China main-
Earthquakes in the China mainland, located at the inter- land. Based on background seismicity and social impor-
section of the Pacific seismic belt and the Eurasian seismic tance, keeping in mind that other regions have equal
belt, are sometimes called, in an overall sense, continental importance for earthquake studies and preparedness, 3
earthquakes (see e.g., [17]). One of the concepts in need of regions are the focus of special attention, namely the central
clarification is that the continental earthquakes in China are China northsouth seismic belt (tectonically, the east mar-
actually a mixture of intra-plate and inter-plate earthquakes. gin of the Tibetan plateau and its northward extension), the
This mixed use of the wording continental earthquakes Tianshan seismic belt, and the North China region.
sometimes masks the real and critical difference between The May 12, 2008, Wenchuan MS8.0 earthquake (occurred
the plate boundary regions and the mid-continental regions at 14:28:04 pm local time, in the southern part of the central
(for such a difference, see e.g., [13]). China northsouth seismic belt) is the most devastating
In a global/regional geodynamic perspective, the inter- earthquake in China since 1976 (the great Tangshan earth-
action among five plus two tectonic plates, Eurasian, Indian, quake). The earthquake, closely related to the interaction
North American, Pacific, and Philippine, plus Australian and
Arabian, forms the seismo-tectonic environment of China. 3
In selecting the major to great earthquakes in the China mainland,
Meanwhile, some of the mid-continental regions, such as
earthquake parameters since 1991 are from http://www.csndmc.ac.cn/
North China, also had major to great earthquakes, causing newweb/data.htm.
destructive consequences to society. 4
Earthquake parameters since 2000 are from http://www.globalcmt.
org/.
5
From http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/china/2010-05/31/
1
See for example, http://english.cri.cn/1702/2005-4-29/121@ c_13325439.htm.
6
232779.htm. From http://www.cea.gov.cn/manage/html/8a8587881632fa5c011
2
See http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/dyfi/; http://www.citi 6674a018300cf/yngz5.7/index.html.
7
zenseismology.eu/. http://baike.baidu.com/view/3536994.htm.
Z. Wu et al. / International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction 4 (2013) 2133 23

between the Eurasian plate and the Indian plate [1], occurred first-rank block (the Xing'an-East Mongolia block) does not
along the mid-to-north Longmenshan fault zone, rupturing have a close boundary and its area shown in the figure is
two parallel faults, about 240 km and 72 km long. The seismic smaller than the actual area. This fractal-like distribution
strong ground motion caused intensity up to XI on the indicates the multi-scale feature of block tectonics which
Modified Mercalli Intensity (MMI) scale, with the narrow- determines the multi-scale feature of seismicity.
ellipsoid-shaped MMI-IX isoseismal almost collocated with
the rupture zone, striking about 300 km north-eastward from 3.2. Consequences of the multi-scale characteristic of seismic
Dujiangyan to Guangyuan, Sichuan Province. A significant hazard
ratio of deaths and injuries as well as missing were due to
the quake-induced landslides and/or rock falls [6,3]. In China, like in other places of the world [12], indexes
of exposure, such as population, GDP and city transporta-
tion networks, exhibit similar (piece-wise) power-law-like
3. Multi-scale seismic hazard and risk and its distribution.9 Fig. 4 shows a conceptual sketch reflecting
consequences the multi-scale feature of seismic hazard and exposure.
The power-law-like spacetimesize distribution of
3.1. Multi-scale seismic hazard in the China mainland earthquakes, as mentioned in the previous sub-section,
features the multi-scale characteristic of earthquake
Fig. 1 shows the frequencymagnitude distribution of hazard, probably not limited to the China mainland. This
earthquakes above MS5.0 in the China mainland from 1980/ multi-scale feature of seismic hazard has direct conse-
01/01 to 2010/12/31 provided by the China Earthquake quences to seismic risk, when interacting with the multi-
Networks Center (CENC), a typical manifestation of the scale feature of exposure and vulnerability as sketched in
multi-scale characteristic. It can be seen that the distribu- Fig. 4. Bottom-line understanding is that, evaluating the
tion is featured by the well-known log-linear Gutenberg progresses and challenges in coping with the multi-scale
Richter distribution (or power-law scaling) of moderate to seismic hazard and risk, a single index (related to a certain
major seismicity,8 and a deviation for major to great earth- scale) seems insufficient.
quakes (with earthquakes larger than MS7.5), being much The 2008 Wenchuan earthquake [3] highlighted the con-
more than the simple power-law extrapolation. sequences of such multi-scale feature. In the perspective of
In the perspective of seismo-genesis, one of the seismo- seismic hazard, referring to Fig. 4(a), this earthquake shows
tectonic hypotheses is that the China mainland can be the challenge related to the up-scaling, or the extreme end,
divided into several tectonic blocks [29], with most of the of the distribution of seismic hazard. Since the beginning of
major, and all of the great earthquakes distributed along the 21st century, the Chinese government has been organizing
the block boundary zones [28], as shown in Fig. 2. Here a the capacity building of earthquake emergency and rescue.
common misunderstanding is that tectonic blocks indi- The emergency and rescue teams had good training and
cate the lower-order tectonic plates. Actually tectonic played an important role in the rescue and relief actions not
blocks deal with the crust and tectonic plates with the only in China but also abroad. The problem is that the size of
lithosphere. Different from tectonic plates, tectonic blocks the team was not sufficient to cope with the tremendous
include three types according to the internal strain rate: disaster caused by a great earthquake such as the Wenchuan
rigid (o109/a, such as the Ordors block), quasi-rigid earthquake. On May 13, 2008, 10 h after the Wenchuan
(109108/a, such as the North China block), and con- mainshock, the national earthquake emergency rescue and
tinuously deformable (4108/a, such as the blocks in the relief team of 184 people arrived at the earthquake area. The
Tibetan plateau). national rescue team, working at 48 sites for 216 h, saved 49,
As firstly proposed by P. Bird [19], even if with a small set assisted in saving 36, and guided in saving 12 people.
of samples, N42, global plate tectonics exhibit a fractal Altogether 19 provincial rescue teams sent about 4000 people
characteristic. For the block tectonics there is a similar scale to the field, saving 322 people from the ruins. Note that this is
invariance, as shown in Fig. 3. In the figure, eliminating the 4 the most difficult to save, needing professional skills and
blocks (the 3 blocks to the south, the West Yunnan block, the equipments. Chengdu Military Area Command dispatched
South Yunnan block, and the South China Sea block, and the 50,000 troops and armed police to facilitate the relief, helping
Tianshan block to the west; refer Fig. 2) whose boundaries are tens of thousands of people rescued from the ruins. Some ten
not closed due to the study region of Zhang et al. [29] due to thousand seriously injured were moved to hospitals outside
which the areas cannot be estimated accurately, and over- Sichuan Province all over the country. But the limitation of the
coming the difficulty associated with the small sampling size of the professional rescue teams and access difficulties
number in the identification of scale invariance, we used the due to landslides meant that the golden time period for
Zipf-distribution or rank-ordering analysis method [20]. In the rescue and relief was missed.
figure, vertical axis is the area of a block, ranked monotoni- In the perspective of seismic risk, a noticeable problem is
cally by its area, and the horizontal axis is its rank order. The the long-tail of the distribution of engineering, as described
straight line in the loglog rank-ordering plot indicates that
there are two ranges of scale invariance [20]. Note that the
9
Due to size limit and the scope of this article, related references,
mostly in Chinese and published in economic and/or social science
8
Here we use the wording for the classification of earthquakes as journals, are not cited here. Searching for these results is easy using
minor (4.04.9), moderate (5.05.9), strong (6.06.9), major (7.07.9), and online databases such as the China National Knowledge Infrastructure
great (above 8.0). (CNKI) database (http://www.cnki.net).
24 Z. Wu et al. / International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction 4 (2013) 2133

in Fig. 4(b). In the Wenchuan earthquake, due to the engi- (for example, recurrence period of major earthquakes in
neering measures based on the proper seismic design, the North China is of the order of 1000 or more years). But
1996 reservoirs and 495 dams in the affected region sustained for the whole China mainland (therefore for the central
the mainshock and the strong aftershocks. On the other hand, government and the national seismological agencies), a
however, there were 7444 schools and about 100 million m2
rural residences damaged or destroyed, resulting in a terrible
number of the losses of life. 107

The China mainland has particularity related to its huge


size. Noticing the seemingly paradoxical situation related
to the multi-scale feature of seismic hazard might be
important in determining the policy for protecting against

S (km2)
and mitigating earthquake disasters in the China main- 106
land: for a specific region, earthquakes may be a rare event
Numbers of Earthquakes

10
105
100 101
Rank
10
Fig. 3. Rank-ordering analysis of the area S of (the second-order) tectonic
blocks (as shown in Fig. 2, marked by the names of different blocks).
Referring to Fig. 2, the 3 blocks to the south (the West Yunnan block, the
South Yunnan block, and the South China Sea block) and the Tianshan
10
5 5.5 6 6.5 7 7.5 8 8.5 block to the west are not included in the present figure because their
boundaries are not closed due to the study region of Zhang et al. [29] and
therefore their areas cannot be estimated accurately. The first-rank block
Fig. 1. Frequencymagnitude distribution of earthquakes above MS5.0 in (the Xing'an-East Mongolia block, as shown by the open box) does not
the China mainland from 1980 to 2010. Data are provided by the China have a close boundary and its area shown in the figure should be smaller
Earthquake Networks Center (CENC). Referring to Fig. 2, the cluster than the actual area. The rank-ordering figure shows two power-laws,
around the Taiwan island region is excluded in the frequencymagnitude albeit the transition between the two power-laws cannot be determined
statistics, highlighting continental earthquakes. accurately [20].

Fig. 2. Earthquakes in China and its surrounding regions, from 1900 to 2010, with boundaries of plates and tectonic blocks. In the figure, color of a block
shows the rigidity, or internal deformation, of the block: green color shows rigid blocks, yellow color shows quasi-rigid blocks, and red color shows
blocks with continuous deformation. See text for details. Data of the block boundaries are provided by Li Li, based on the results of Zhang et al. [29]. (For
interpretation of the references to color in this figure legend, the reader is referred to the web version of this article.)
Z. Wu et al. / International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction 4 (2013) 2133 25

major earthquake is NOT a rare event: there are on average China mainland. Note that the period 19802010 (in which
2 major earthquakes in every 3 years. Fig. 5(a) shows, at a the earthquake catalog is complete for events above MS5)
longer time scale comparing to Fig. 1, the magnitudetime is not a high seismicity period.
distribution (the Mt diagram) of the earthquakes in the On the other hand, the size of the China mainland also
provides advantages in the recovery process after destruc-
tive earthquakes. The Wenchuan earthquake, affecting 417
county-level units of 10 provinces, including 51 hard-hit
and/or extremely hard-hit (mainly in Sichuan, Gansu, and
Shaanxi Provinces), and affecting a population of about 20
million, is a recent example for such a recovery efficiency.
In September, 2008, 4 months after the earthquake, The
Overall Planning for Post-Wenchuan Earthquake Restoration
and Reconstruction was ratified by the State Council, with
the aim that basic living conditions and the economic
development reach or surpass the pre-disaster level. The
reconstruction used a characterized Chinese mode that 19
provinces/cities are assigned to assist their counterparts in
the reconstruction (for example, Zhejiang Province has its
partner Qingchuan County), and had a modernized vision
that both living condition and economic development be
considered at the same time. In mid-2011, after three years
work, the State Council announced that the reconstruction
has been successfully completed.
Complex spatio-temporal pattern of earthquakes further
adds the challenge to cope with the multi-scale seismic
hazard and risk by an overall strategic deployment. From
1997 to the time when this manuscript was finished, the
Bayan Har block in western China was the unique contributor
Fig. 4. Conceptual sketch demonstrating the multi-scale feature of to the major to great earthquakes in continental China, as
seismic hazard (a) and exposure (b). Note that this is a loglog plot, shown in Fig. 5(b). Along the boundary zones of this tectonic
reflecting a power-law-like (or Zipf-type) distribution. Due to the con-
ceptual sketch nature, the piece-wise characteristic, as well as the slopes
block there occurred the 1997 Mani (Tibet) MS7.5 earthquake,
(or scaling coefficients) for each piece, is not necessarily the real case the 2001 Kunlunshan/Kokoxili (Qinghai) MS8.1 earthquake,
which is more complicated. the 2008 Yutian (Xinjiang) MS7.3 earthquake, the 2008

Fig. 5. Temporal distribution of earthquakes above MS7.0 in the China mainland from 1900 to 2010. Data are provided by the China Earthquake Networks
Center (CENC): (a) the China mainland and (b) the boundary zone of the Bayan Har block.
26 Z. Wu et al. / International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction 4 (2013) 2133

Urumqi
40

ur asian plate
E
35 Yinchuan
2001 M
2008 M7.3 8.1
The
Bay Xining
an H
1997 M7.5 ar b
lock
Xi'an
30
2010 M7.1

Lhasa
2008 M8.0
Chengdu
Chongqing
25

Indian plate Guiyang

80 85 90 95 100 105 110


Fig. 6. The Bayan Har block (filled by light blue) and the distribution of major to great earthquakes around the Bayan Har block from 1997 to 2012. To the
top right is the indexing figure of the position of the map. In the map, orange lines show the earthquake ruptures, and blue arrows show the focal
mechanism types of the earthquakes. Gray dots show the epicenters of historical major to great earthquakes on record. As larger-scale geodynamic
background, the arrow in gray to the bottom left shows, qualitatively and conceptually, the relative motion of the Indian plate with respect to the Eurasian
plate. (For interpretation of the references to color in this figure legend, the reader is referred to the web version of this article.)

Wenchuan (Sichuan) MS8.0 earthquake, and the 2010 Yushu Wenchuan earthquake, was set as the National Day for
(Qinghai) MS7.1 earthquake. Locations and focal mechanisms Protecting Against and Mitigating Natural Disasters. Since
of these earthquakes (shown in Fig. 6) imply the close relation the turn of the century, the China Earthquake Administration
between tectonic blocks and earthquakes. But why this (CEA), the successor of the State Seismological Bureau (SSB)
tectonic block was the unique contributor of major to great which was founded in 1971, has gradually established the
earthquakes to the seismicity in the China mainland for the three-plus-one system, that is, (1) system for earthquake
recent 1.5 decade, and what will be the future of this disaster preparedness, (2) system for earthquake monitoring
tendency, is still not understood in geodynamics at the and forecast, (3) system for earthquake emergency response,
present time. Importantly, mainstream geological and geody- rescue and relief, and (4) system for innovation of earth-
namic studies indicated (before 2008) that the mid-to-north quake science and technology. Since 2005, the CEA has set its
Longmenshan fault zone, which accommodated the 2008 dual missions, as the capacity building of itself to serve the
Wenchuan great earthquake, is a dead fault zone, which society, and promoting the capacity building of the whole
leads to the seismic zonation result of this region as Chinese society for the reduction of earthquake disasters, with the
intensity (similar to MMI) VIVII, much lower than the actual radical notion to reduce the losses of property and life caused
intensity shown in the Wenchuan earthquake. by earthquake disasters to the largest possible extent.
Research and development (R&D) plays an essential role
4. Coping with the challenges: the national-level in the reduction of earthquake disasters. In August 2007,
endeavor sponsored by the China Earthquake Administration (CEA),
the Ministry of Science and Technology of China (MOST), the
Suffering from destructive earthquakes through history, National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC), the
Chinese society paid special attention to the reduction of Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), and the Committee for
earthquake disasters [4,11]. The Law of the People's Republic of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, the
China on Protecting Against and Mitigating Earthquake Disas- National Conference on Earthquake Science and Technology
ters, adopted on December 29, 1997, came into force as of was held in Beijing, with the product The Strategic Plan of
March 1, 1998. On December 27, 2008, The Law of the People's National Earthquake Science and Technology Development
Republic of China on Protecting Against and Mitigating Earth- (20072020),10 outlining the scientific challenges and sug-
quake Disasters, amended and adopted at the 6th Meeting of gestive actions in science and technology for the reduction of
the Standing Committee of the Eleventh National People's
Congress of the People's Republic of China, was promulgated,
which went into effect as of May 1, 2009. On March 2, 2009, 10
http://www.cea.gov.cn/manage/html/8a8587881632fa5c0116674a
ratified by the State Council, May 12, the day of the 2008 018300cf/_content/10_01/28/1264640870755.html.
Z. Wu et al. / International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction 4 (2013) 2133 27

earthquake disasters. Priorities identified for the reduction of the end of 2000, which includes the National Digital Seismo-
earthquake disasters include (1) theory and techniques for graph Network, 20 regional digital seismograph networks,
earthquake monitoring; (2) continental tectonics and con- and a mobile digital seismograph network consisting of 100
tinental earthquakes; (3) oceanic seismology; (4) earthquake portable digital seismographs. Between 1999 and 2001, the
forecast and prediction; (5) preparedness of earthquake Beijing Capital-Circle Digital Seismograph Network (covering
disasters; (6) techniques for earthquake emergency response Beijing Municipality, Tianjin Municipality, and Hebei Province)
and rescue actions; and (7) seismological information service with real-time data transmission was established, consist-
to scientific communities and the public. At the end of 2006, ing of 107 seismic stations. The China Digital Earthquake
the State Council ratified the plan of the Ministry of Finance Observation Networks Project, consisting of 6 components
and the Ministry of Science and Technology regarding the (3 networks and 3 systems): a geophysical/geochemical-
budget of national institutions for science and technology of anomaly monitoring network, a digital seismograph net-
public affairs. Since then China has established a new work, and a digital strong motion network; an active fault
mechanism for regularly supporting the science and tech- mapping system, an earthquake emergency commanding
nology for social sustainability, such like meteorological and system, and an earthquake information service system, was
seismological R&D works. In the earthquake emergency launched in June 2004, and passed the acceptance inspection
response to the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, the National in April 2008, just one month before the Wenchuan
Expert Committee for the Wenchuan Earthquake was estab- earthquake.
lished on May 21, 2008, by the State Council, highlighting the The 2008 Wenchuan earthquake was one of the harsh
role of science and technology in the reduction of earthquake and comprehensive tests of earthquake science and tech-
disasters. The Committee was assigned to provide technical nology and the preparedness, mitigation, and management
consultation to (1) strong aftershock tendency; (2) seismo- of earthquake disasters. Taking the lessons and experiences
tectonics; (3) earthquake mechanism; (4) evaluation of of the Wenchuan earthquake, in July, 2008, the CEA
losses; (5) secondary disasters; and (6) reconstruction and organized the Scientific Review and Reflection of the Wench-
recovery. uan Earthquake,12 a campaign participated in by hundreds
In the engineering perspective, the priorities listed in of experts and tens of institutions and/or provincial earth-
The Strategic Plan of National Earthquake Science and quake administrations within the framework of the CEA.
Technology Development (20072020) include (a) mapping The internal reports were completed in mid-2009, with 4
and seismic hazard assessment of active faults, especially reports to different readers: (1) overall summary report; (2)
for cities and city clusters and large-scale and key engi- summary report of the work of the CEA; (3) summary
neering, highlighting the Key Regions for enhanced mon- report to the central government; and (4) summary outline
itoring (for this concept see Section 5.2) and critical lifeline to the society for public understanding. The reports include
systems; (b) observation and study of strong ground 6 topical issues: (1) social management and public service;
motion and site response including liquefaction and large (2) seismological monitoring; (3) earthquake forecast; (4)
deformation; (c) standards for the engineering protection preparedness and engineering; (5) earthquake emergency
against earthquake disasters considering the level of response; and (6) science and technology. Guided by a
economic and social development; (d) mechanism of Working Committee composed of 105 experts, and con-
nonlinear damage and collapse of engineering, assessment sulted by a Consultation Committee of 66 senior experts
of the state of health of engineering, new materials/ (Academicians of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the
techniques for seismic safety, and reinforcement and Chinese Academy of Engineering), the reports proposed
isolation techniques; (e) secondary disasters and concate- several operational suggestions which lead to the actions
nated disasters; and (f) post-earthquake assessment of within the 12th five-year plan (20112015) of China, with
engineering destruction and economic losses. Most if not some actions targeting 2020. The five-year plan and long-
all of these priorities have been studied through projects term plan in China take a similar approach as the Science
supported by different funding agencies since 2007. and Technology Foresight.13 In the 21st century, the plans
Since the turn of the century, infrastructures for seismo- gradually evolved into a system, including 13 compo-
logical, geodetic and other geophysical observation and mon- nents,14 namely, (1) legislation related to the reduction of
itoring have been developed and modernized considerably in earthquake disasters; (2) technical standards; (3) social
the China mainland.11 Infrastructure for GPS monitoring was management and public service; (4) public understanding
constructed jointly by the CEA and other geodetic and/or and outreach; (5) seismological and geophysical/geodetic/
geosciences agencies (the Crustal Movement Observation geochemical monitoring; (6) earthquake forecast/predic-
Network of China, CMONOC, Phase I, 19972001; campaigns tion; (7) disaster prevention and preparedness; (8) earth-
1999, 2001, 2004, 2007; Phase II, 20072011). This brand-new quake emergency and rescue; (9) earthquake science and
observation system attracted much attention in the interna- technology; (10) land use and construction of the CEA
tional scientific communities (for example, [23]). Almost in facilities; (11) personnel and education; (12) international
parallel at the same time, the China Digital Seismological collaboration; and (13) information infrastructure. In 2010,
Observation System was completed and began operation at
12
http://www.cea.gov.cn/manage/html/8a8587881632fa5c0116674a
11
Chen, J.M., Earthquake disaster reduction in developing China, 018300cf/_content/08_08/12/1218526303327.html.
13
Keynote Presentation, the 14th World Conference on Earthquake Engi- For example, see https://www.unido.org/foresight.
14
neering (WCEE), October 1217, 2008, Beijing, China; electronic version http://www.cea.gov.cn/manage/html/8a8587881632fa5c0116674a
available at http://www.iitk.ac.in/nicee/wcee/article/14_K002.pdf. 018300cf/_content/12_03/05/1330914129520.html.
28 Z. Wu et al. / International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction 4 (2013) 2133

the State Council published the Open File Guidelines for Wenchuan earthquake were that, firstly, active faults were
Further Strengthening the Works for Protecting Against and the major threat to buildings, with clear hanging-wall
Mitigating Earthquake Disasters,15 formulating several prio- effect related to the thrust rupture, and secondly, quake-
rities in the next decade. In 2011, the Committee for Science induced landslides caused tremendous disasters, indicating
and Technology of the China Earthquake Administration that secondary disasters are by no means of secondary
(CEA), cooperating with the Division of Geophysics of the importance. These lessons were taken into full account in
National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC), pub- the reinforcement.
lished the strategic report Seismological Grand Challenges for The Wenchuan earthquake reflects the blind spots of
the Reduction of Earthquake Disasters in China [24],16 dis- modern seismology and geology as per the seismo-genic
cussing 7 grand challenges, including (1) earthquake rup- tectonics, which affected the estimation of the seismic hazard
ture, (2) near-surface structure, strong ground motion, and of the Longmenshan fault zone. Aiming at the deepening of
earthquake disaster, (3) interaction of tectonic blocks, and the understandings of seismo-tectonics, in 2010, the CEA
relation with earthquakes, (4) stress and strain near the launched a long-term national project till 2020 which con-
ground surface and in deep, and relation with earthquakes, tains three components: (1) nationwide active fault mapping;
(5) structure, deformation, and uprising of the Tibetan (2) geophysical background field mapping; and (3) the
plateau, and relation with earthquakes, (6) time-lapse ChinArray for the step-by-step geophysical imaging of the
process of near-surface structure, and relation with earth- lithosphere structure of the China mainland. The design of the
quakes, and (7) earth structure and geodynamics, and ChinArray is quite similar to that of the USArray17 but with a
relation with earthquakes. Two major projects were pro- more dense inter-station spacing of 35 km considering the
posed by the report, namely the construction of a moder- need of seismotectonic studies. The ChinArray Phase I, con-
nized geophysical observation system, and the outreach and ducted in the Yunnan-Sichuan region, deployed 500 broad-
education related to earthquake science and technology. band seismic stations, with regional seismic networks as
backbone, aiming at the imaging of the 3-D structure of the
crust and upper mantle by 24 months observation. Seismic
5. Scientic products serving the society: tested by and
sounding (520 km), MT sounding (1200 km), geomagnetic
improved after the Wenchuan earthquake
(1200 km), and gravity profiles (2200 km) were deployed
accounting for the regional seismo-tectonics. Active source
5.1. Earthquake hazard assessment, seismic zonation, and
monitoring was tested in western Yunnan,18 as the starting of
seismic design
the network of seismic emission stations. By the end of 2012,
the ChinArray Phase II (north part of the central northsouth
Since the 1950s, four generations of seismic zonation
seisimic belt) was ratified and started.
map have been published in China (in 1957, 1977, 1990,
and 2001). Codes for seismic design of industrial and
civilian buildings, as well as their revisions, came into 5.2. Forecast of time-dependent earthquake hazard: decade
effect in 1974, 1978, 1984, 1989, 1990, and 2001, based on and annual scale
the zonation results [3]. The principal aim of the seismic
design has been no collapse during large earthquakes, At the time scale of 515 years, a national research
repairable after intermediate-size earthquakes, and no project organized by the CEA [16], using geological, seismo-
damage during small earthquakes, which helped much logical, and geophysical methods, identified several Key
for the public engineering and civil buildings to sustain the Regions Subject to Special Monitoring which are estimated
strong motion, even if in the might-be-the-worst case of as probable for earthquakes over MS7 in the west and
Wenchuan with the high-underestimation of the seismic earthquakes over MS6 in the east, for the 1.5 decade period
intensity along the mid-to-north Longmenshan fault zone. from 2006 to 2020. The identification of such Key Regions
Noticing the weak capability of seismic safety in the rural has relatively sound scientific basis and contributed much to
areas, before the Wenchuan earthquake, a nationwide the local preparedness for earthquake disasters. Among the
project for the reinforcement of rural residences had been 17 Key Regions identified in western China, the south-to-mid
underway. The Wenchuan earthquake occurred at the time Longmenshan fault zone was identified as probable for
when the project was on-going in Sichuan Province. A earthquakes over MS7. In contrast, almost all other methods
sharp comparison was that destruction was much lessened failed to identify the Longmenshan fault zone as seismically
for the regions where the reinforcement had been com- dangerous at different time scales. Based on this result, after
pleted. After the Wenchuan earthquake, this project was the Wenchuan earthquake, the CEA organized a working
accelerated and strengthened. Moreover, a national project group on the long- to intermediate-term forecast of major to
of the reinforcement of school buildings was launched great earthquakes [21].
after the earthquake. Two important lessons from the Started in 1972 and officially formalized in 1975, the
Annual Consultation Meeting on the Likelihood of Earth-
15
http://www.cea.gov.cn/manage/html/8a8587881632fa5c0116674a quakes in the Next Year has been one of the important
018300cf/_content/10_09/26/1285465244112.html. activities organized in China to deal with the seismic hazard
16
The structure of this report is similar to, and probably hinted at by,
the IRIS report (2008) Seismological Grand Challenges in Understanding
17
Earths Dynamic Systems (http://www.iris.edu/hq/lrsps/seis_plan_final. http://www.usarray.org/.
18
pdf) but specifically focuses on the earthquake disaster problem, con- http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2012/02/air-guns-sha
sidering the special situation in the China mainland. ke-up-earthquake-mon.html.
Z. Wu et al. / International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction 4 (2013) 2133 29

at annual scale. At the turn of the year, seismologists use experiment lasted till today, with both successes and
their methods of precursor/anomaly identification and earth- failures. Retrospectively investigated, there were several
quake forecast/prediction to identify the areas with increased precursor-like anomalies before the 2008 Wenchuan
probability of earthquakes in the coming year. An ad hoc earthquake (for a review, see [14]), but none of these
group of experts conduct the evaluation of the proposed anomalies was so conclusive as to lead to the
precursors/anomalies and the forecast/prediction. By com- intermediate-term or short-term alarm of the earthquake.
bining tectonic, seismic, and other geophysical information, Although the original purpose for establishing the State
the group of experts draws conclusions about the seismic Seismological Bureau in 1971 was to a large extent to
tendency in the next year and identifies the areas with coordinate the study and application of earthquake fore-
higher seismic risk. This working group writes a report to the cast/prediction, it has to be noticed that the Chinese wording
CEA, and the CEA in turn reports these results to the central earthquake forecast/prediction (study) has a much broader
government. In the regions which are expected to have a meaning as compared to the earthquake forecast/prediction
higher probability of earthquakes, seismological monitoring (study) in English, a cultural difference similar to the
is strengthened, and some long-term engineering/social difference between the Chinese Long and the western
countermeasures are taken accordingly. Only few results of dragon. In China, earthquake forecast/prediction includes
the annual consultation meetings have been published in the a wide range of issues, from seismic hazard assessment,
widely-accessible academic journals. In the early 1990s some time-dependent seismic hazard estimate, intermediate-term
foreign seismologists were invited to participate in the medium-range earthquake forecast, to short-and-imminent-
meeting. American seismologist Wu [25] gave an introduc- term earthquake prediction, further to the assessment of the
tion to the history and the state-of-the-art of the annual type of earthquake sequence (swarm, or mainshock-after-
consultation. Seismological Press in Beijing has published shocks) and the likelihood of strong aftershocks, and to the
some of the research results (in Chinese) related to the evaluation of a specific earthquake forecast/prediction. Simi-
annual consultation, released to the public after three years larly, when Chinese seismological agencies talk about earth-
because of the sensitivity and uncertainty of the present quake forecast/prediction study, they are talking about
study of earthquake predictability. Evaluation of the perfor- almost everything in geosciences and physical sciences
mance of the annual consultation leads to objective conclu- which are directly or indirectly related to the estimation of
sions on the present capability of the estimation of annual seismic hazard at different spatio-temporal scales. In 2010
seismic hazard [18,30], which shows that on average the the CEA published the Open File Guidelines for Strengthening
annual consultation, with both successful and unsuccessful Seismological Monitoring and Earthquake Forecast,19 further
(including failures-to-forecast and false-alarms) estimates, highlighting the five-combinations policy, namely (1) the
significantly outperforms random forecasts, while this appar- combination of long-term, intermediate-term, short-and-
ent success is, to a large extent, dependent on the probabil- imminent-term forecast, and sequence type and aftershock
istic estimation of background seismicity. The unique forecast; (2) the combination of seismological monitoring,
scientific merit of the annual consultation meeting lies in earthquake forecast, and earthquake early warning; (3) the
the fact that as a real forward forecast/prediction test, it has combination of monitoring, research, forecast test, and fore-
been persistently conducted for 4 decades. Again the annual cast application; (4) the combination of the CEAs work and
consultation has the problem of up-scaling: while it cap- the works of the other institutions/agencies as well as the
tured some of the strong to major earthquakes, at the public; and (5) the combination of earthquake forecast/
beginning of 2008, the Annual Consultation failed to identify prediction with disaster reduction countermeasures, reflect-
the middle-to-north Longmenshan fault zone as the poten- ing the holistic view of the Chinese approach.
tial region for earthquake/s over MS7, and obtained an under- The long-term to intermediate-term earthquake forecast
estimate of the maximum magnitude in 2008 for the whole in China, expressed by the identification of the Key Regions
China mainland (MS7). for strengthened monitoring and preparedness at the 1015
year time scale, the 3-year time-scale and whole-China-
5.3. Earthquake forecast/prediction: in Chinese versus in continent spatial-scale seismic tendency, and the annual-
English scale consultation, are all featured by the real forward
forecast test and provide unique experiences for the assess-
The decade from 1966 to 1976 was a seismically active ment of seismic hazard. The case-based evaluation of
period in the China mainland. During this period there earthquake forecast/prediction and the timeplace-targeted
occurred 9 major earthquakes. Chinese seismological assessment of time-dependent seismic hazard (such as for
agencies carried out extensive studies and experiments the spatio-temporal window for the 2008 Beijing Olympic
on earthquake forecast/prediction, with both successes Games) also provide interesting case examples for opera-
and failures [15,2], including the successful (but still tional earthquake forecast [11]. Chen Zhangli, former
controversial) prediction of the 1975 Haicheng M7.3 earth- director-general of the China Seismological Bureau (CSB,
quake and the failure to predict the tragic 1976 Tangshan 19962001), recorded and discussed some interesting (and
M7.8 earthquake. The foreshock information used to pre- to a large extent unique) case examples for the leaders of
dict the Haicheng earthquake was selected in 1991 by the the national and local seismological agencies to make hard
IASPEI Sub-Committee of Earthquake Prediction as one of
the three significant precursors [26,27], but other precur-
sors as well as the forecast-based decision-making process 19
http://www.cea.gov.cn/manage/html/8a8587881632fa5c0116674a
were questioned [10,22]. The precursor-hunting 018300cf/_content/11_03/28/1301300870907.html.
30 Z. Wu et al. / International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction 4 (2013) 2133

decisions based on the short-term forecast with significant After the 2010 Yushu earthquake, earthquake early warn-
uncertainty [5]. ing became an issue with governmental and social attention.
The establishment of the national system for the fast report
5.4. Seismological information service: meeting the needs of of seismic intensity and earthquake early warning is just
our web times underway. The system merges two major observational
components, namely the seismic observation network and
Seismological information service provided to the gov- the strong motion observation network, which have been
ernment and the public was far from satisfactory during the independent of each other for a long time. The service of this
Wenchuan earthquake, partly because the upgraded seismo- system is designed as the fast report of seismic intensity, the
logical monitoring system had just begun its testing-mode earthquake early warning for specific regions, and the earth-
operation for less than 2 months when the Wenchuan quake early warning for selected key engineering such as
earthquake struck. Rapid prediction of the final fatality nuclear power plant and high-speed railway. The CEA and
provided an embarrassingly underestimated result, at least the Ministry of Railway Transportation signed the coopera-
partly due to the use of a point source concept. The seismic tion protocol for the R&D works related to the earthquake
recordings of the Wenchuan mainshock in the Beijing early warning system (EEWS). In China, the particularity of
Capital-Circle Region mis-triggered an event report of a an EEWS lies in the huge size of the territory, diffused
ML3.9 earthquake in Beijing. The automatic regional CMT distribution of earthquakes, and the infrequent character of
solution of the mainshock provided by the China Earthquake seismic activity. In this case, the widely used concepts of
Networks Center (CENC) was shown to be incorrect, at least earthquake early warning, such as front-detection EEWS and
partly due to the lack of an analyst-review procedure. After on-site EEWS, have to be used, and can be used, in a hybrid
the Wenchuan earthquake, taking these lessons into account, and varied form.
the CEA led a campaign to improve the seismological
information service based on the up-to-date science and
technology, learning from the experiences of the interna- 6. The hierarchical actors network: problems and
tional advanced seismological agencies such as the USGS/ progresses
NEIC. The CEA distributes the jobs of seismological informa-
tion products among its institutions, establishing a mechan- Earthquake disaster in the China mainland is featured by
ism to work in a 7  24 mode on routine basis, providing fast temporal scales from centuries to months, spatial scales
reports of the earthquake rupture process, improved location from the whole mainland to specific engineering structures,
of aftershock sequence, focal mechanisms of the mainshock and energy scales from great disastrous earthquakes to
and aftershocks, ground motion characterization and loss small earthquakes causing social disturbance and economic
estimation, and tectonic background information, among loss. Coping with this challenge needs not only the national
others, depending on the magnitude and location of the level countermeasures but also the wide participation of the
earthquake. The Chinese version of earthquake poster has public. Using the language of the actor network theory
started to be produced and published on-line since 2009. (ANT) in science studies or the sociology of science,20 there
The CEA also established a mechanism to cooperate with is a need for a hierarchical actors network, making the
news media for the fast seismological information service. science transformed to the actions of the public for the
Micro-blogs and cell-phone messages are used to meet the preparedness, mitigation, and management of multi-scale
needs of fast earthquake information service to target end- earthquake disasters. Role of national seismological agen-
users. This endeavor was tested successfully during the cies should be the coordination of the forming of such an
emergency response to the 2010 Yushu MS7.1 earthquake. actors network. The mean measure for such coordination
Facilitating the earthquake information service not only for is the scientific products, or in the language of ANT, the 4
earthquake emergency but also for earthquake disaster key ingredients of translation processproblematization,
preparedness, in 2010, the CEA launched the Social Earth- interessment, enrollment, and mobilization of allies, based
quake Safety Service Engineering, based on the nodes of on the scientific products.
regional and local earthquake administrations. The effect of such hierarchical actor's network can be
The surface wave magnitude of the Wenchuan earth- visualized by an example in Xinjiang.21 The February 24,
quake was firstly determined as MS7.8 by quick report, and 2003, Bachu-Jiashi MS6.8 earthquake (origin time: 10:03 am
was revised, on May 18, 2012, to MS8.0 with more data local time) caused 268 deaths, reflecting the exposure
available and more recordings checked, based on the and vulnerability in the affected area. From 2004 to 2008,
consultation of an expert panel. This is the first time for with the financial support from the central and local
Chinese seismological agency to officially revise the mag- governments, and contribution from social, public, and self
nitude of an earthquake. Before this time, the quick investment, 1.52 million houses were reinforced throughout
estimates of the magnitudes of earthquakes were never Xinjiang. Designs and construction materials were provided
revised, even if with large bias/uncertainty, with concern by the national and/or local governmental agencies. On
not to cause misunderstandings in the society. After the October 5, 2008 (local time 23:52 pm), a MS6.8 earthquake
Wenchuan earthquake, Chinese public became more and struck Wuqia, near the Bachu-Jiashi area but centered in
more adapted to the quick-but-rough estimate of earth-
quake magnitude and the later revised report. This is also 20
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Actor%E2%80%93network_theory.
an interesting case of the impact of devastating earth- 21
Data from the Earthquake Administration of the Xinjiang Uygur
quakes to science and its public understanding. Autonomous Region, 2012.
Z. Wu et al. / International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction 4 (2013) 2133 31

Kyrgyzstan around 10 km from the border with Xinjiang, abroad to evaluate the forecast made by a Russian group
with zero deaths in the China side. Since 2005 there indicating that there would be a strong earthquake near
occurred 55 earthquakes above MS5 in the populated rural Beijing around the time of the Olympic Games. The evalua-
areas of Xinjiang. For all the earthquakes above MS5 there tion turned down the forecast, and it was shown that the
were no injuries; for all the earthquakes above MS6 there evaluation was correct. On the other hand, taking the above
were no deaths. mentioned boundary condition of the capability of the
Local governments and the public play a crucial role in estimation of time-dependent seismic hazard, how to con-
overcoming the long-tail problem. In 2010, the CEA nect the probability (or the increase of the probability) of
published the Open File Guidelines for Strengthening the earthquakes to the decision-making practice by the govern-
Works at the City and County Level for Protecting Against and ment and the public is still one of the issues in need of
Mitigating Earthquake Disasters.22 Technical standards and discussion and improvement, as shown by several cases of
legislation act as the bonds linking different elements of earthquake rumors and the social disturbance associated
the society to form a network. The CEA has established with earthquake panic. On May 19, 2008, a TV-broadcasted
some show-case models for the problematization, interess- message of a probable strong aftershock caused widespread
ment, enrollment, and mobilization of alliesalthough not panic in the cities near the epicenter, and along the extension
necessarily using the language of ANT. Since recent years, of the seismic fault, of the Wenchuan earthquake, including
one of the significant advances in this aspect is that the Chengdu and Xi'an, among others. If the public were aware
CEA has closer relation with local governments, and has of the possible consequences of such a strong aftershock
closer cooperation with the public. The CEA provincial (forecasted to be magnitude 7), even if qualitatively compar-
agencies serve as the headquarters of the local govern- ing to the consequences of the mainshock (magnitude 8, or,
ments for earthquake emergency response. In more and about 30 times larger), there would not be such irrational
more places, reduction of earthquake disasters has been disturbance.
enrolled into the development index system to examine The most important challenge might be the coupling of
the performance of local governmental agencies. Along the earthquake forecast/prediction with disaster reduction
Tancheng-Lujiang fault of the east coast of China which countermeasures. With the present limit of the capacity of
had some severely destructive earthquakes in history and forecast, if the forecast can be used for the ifthen
sometimes being called (inexactly but vividly) as the San prediction of strong motions and economic impacts, and
Andreas fault along the west Pacific coast, the major cities to serve the risk management, disaster preparedness, and
subject to seismic risk have established an inter-cities capacity building, then the forecast will be useful. Other-
association for seismic disaster protection and mitigation. wise, if the government and the public are exposed directly
The CEA institutions provide forecast-based scientific to a forecast, with large uncertainties, of a probable
information service to the government and, through the explosion of a bomb (note that news media prefer to talk
government, to the public. At the present time, the 1015 about the TNT-yield equivalence of an earthquake, and the
years estimation of the key regions for enhanced monitoring problem is that even if a moderate earthquake can be
has shown its relatively sound scientific basis and potentials related to an A-bomb), then the decision-making for risk
for application for the preparedness. The 3 years estimation management will automatically change to the decision-
of seismic hazard (performance not evaluated yet) and the making for emergency. As shown by the B. T. Brady
annual consultation (with hit rate about 20%30%, and prediction debate in the 1970s and the L'Aquila -2009 case
statistically outperforming random forecast) help to a large (China mainland has many similar, although not so unbe-
extent the local preparedness. The assessment of the type of lievably dramatic, experiences), in this situation, a natural
earthquake sequence and the likelihood of strong after- disaster may be changed to a technological accident, just due
shocks has relatively sound scientific basis and has played to the incorrect understanding of the role of the forecast.
a positive role in assisting the rescue and relief actions The Wenchuan earthquake attracted widespread atten-
as well as the reconstructions. The case-based evaluation tion of the public, and raised a new question as per the
of earthquake forecast/prediction has contributed much communication with the public through news media. Being
to avoid the negative effects associated with the non- the first time for emergency people and scientific commu-
scientific forecast/prediction. The case-specific special- nity to be exposed to the media in the emergency response
timespace-oriented consultation at least enhances the stage (note that the first CEA Training Course of Media
monitoring alert level and avoids the unnecessary social Spokesman was held on May 710, 2008), neither the
disorder. One dramatic example was when the seismological performance of scientists nor that of the Chinese news
agency announced to the organization committee of the media was as good as expected. Rampant misunderstanding
1990 Beijing Asian Games, based on the analysis of seismicity about the predictability of earthquakes, with many of the
and geophysical anomalies, that probably there would be agenda for discussion and debate obsolete even 30 years
small earthquake/s occurring during the Asian Games but it ago (that is, blaming seismologists for not predicting the
would be unlikely destructive, and just before the opening earthquake, claiming that predictions had been made by
ceremony there occurred a felt earthquake. In 2008 the CEA amateur seismologists but neglected by the CEA, and using
invited several experts not only in China but also from the language of political violence to discuss the scientific
issues of earthquake prediction), marked a significant draw-
back of the public understanding of earthquake forecast,
22
http://www.cea.gov.cn/manage/html/8a8587881632fa5c0116674a being a disruption to the emergency response, rescue and
018300cf/_content/11_03/28/1301300803614.html. relief. It took a long time to recover from this drawback
32 Z. Wu et al. / International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction 4 (2013) 2133

which was mainly initiated and promoted by news media. Natural Hazards, Disaster Risks and Societal Implications (Eds.
About one month after the Wenchuan earthquake, news A. Ismail-Zadeh, J. Fucugaughi, A. Kijko, K. Takeuchi and
media reported that Japanese seismologists could predict I. Zaliapin, to be published 2013 by Cambridge University
an earthquake several seconds before its occurrence, which Press). Z. Wu thanks the CEA for the authorization for
was actually a misunderstanding of the performance of the presentation at some international symposia.23 Collection of
earthquake early warning system (EEWS) during the Iwate the data was supported by the ChinArray Project (Phase-I) and
Miyagi Nairiku earthquake on June 14, 2008. the Wenchuan earthquake Fault Scientific Drilling (WFSD)
Project, and helped to a large extent by Prof. Li Li.
7. Concluding remarks and discussion
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and help in writing the manuscript, and to the anonymous


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Wu and T.F. Ma, invited by A. Ismail-Zadeh), in Extreme Our preparation.
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