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Western Geographic Science Center

Science Application for Risk Reduction (SAFRR)

Natural hazards Diagram

Figure 1: Geographical extent and overlap of natural hazards in southern California.

Shakeout building blocks Diagram

Figure 2: Building blocks of the ShakeOut earthquake scenario. Secondary hazards include shaking induced liquefaction and landslides.Triggered hazards result from damages and include fire and hazardous waste spills.


Science Application for Risk Reduction (SAFRR) estimated consequences of natural hazard disaster scenarios as a strategy to increase community resiliency, a community’s ability to cope with the effects of a disaster.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Science Application for Risk Reduction (SAFRR) was initiated in 2006 as Multi-Hazards Demonstration Project (MHDP)in southern California (website link). Multi-hazard scenarios for an earthquake and a winter storm were developed with partners and stakeholders to apply science to community decision making and emergency management. The scenarios are constructed from a foundation of earth science describing the hazard events that are translated into physical and environmental damages, and social and economic consequences (figure 2). Currently a tsunami scenario is being developed for the California coast.

USGS Western Geographic Science Center Contributions

The WGSC team, led by Anne Wein, has coordinated efforts to quantify economic impacts and describe recovery issues for the scenarios. Earthquake (ShakeOut), winter storm (ARkStorm), and tsunami scenarios have all been (or are currently being) assessed by WGSC’s researchers in cooperation with external subject experts using geographic analyses and economic and community recovery models (read more about WGSC Research Team).

Economic Impact Analysis — Economic impact analysis pertains to business interruption losses resulting from loss of productivity due to physical damages and lifeline service outages. In catastrophic events when recovery languishes for many years (e.g., Hurricane Katrina) business interruption losses can exceed physical repair and replacement costs. Part of the analysis entails the investigation of possible economic resilience strategies, such as, conservation of resources and repair contracts with incentives, which serve to reduce short-term business interruption losses and speed reconstruction and repair, respectively. For the ShakeOut and ARkStorm scenarios, input-output and computable general equilibrium models of regional economies, respectively, account for the possible capital and productivity losses and incorporate economic resilience.

Regional Recovery Analysis and Community Studies — Just as police and fire fighters need exercises to prepare for emergency response, so must the "second wave" of responders — city managers, planners, building officials, engineers, and other staff who will have local recovery responsibilities. Thus, the recovery phase of a disaster also deserves attention in scenario-based emergency management exercises. For instance, with the ShakeOut scenario we populated a recovery model in consultation with communities.

Geographical Analyses — Spatial analysis is integral to the analysis of SAFRR scenarios and used to communicate results to expert panels, and in workshops, presentations, and reports; provide inputs into analyses of economic impacts and recovery; and calibrate damage estimates. Geographers at the Menlo Park, Rocky Mountain Geographic Science Center, and Eastern Geographic Science Center have produced spatial analyses and maps of hazards and exposure of populations, land uses, transportation infrastructure, and business sectors.

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