Canada gets updated earthquake model

Coming on the heels of last week’s U.S. announcement, Canada now has an updated earthquake model – but it includes more than just shake and rattle, but the roll as well.

Risk Management News


Coming on the heels of last week’s U.S. announcement, Canada now has an updated earthquake model – but it includes more than just shake and rattle, but the roll as well.

AIR Worldwide (AIR) announced it has updated its Earthquake Model for Canada today, with the comprehensive update providing insurers and industry stakeholders the most advanced tool for assessing potential losses from ground shaking, fire following earthquake, tsunami, liquefaction, and landslide for the Canadian market.

“The updated Earthquake Model for Canada has been extensively reengineered and offers significant enhancements,” says Dr. Jayanta Guin, executive vice president, research and modeling, AIR Worldwide. “The model reflects an up-to-date view of seismicity based on the latest hazard information from the Geological Survey of Canada and collaboration with leading academics. In addition to the ability to estimate losses from shake, fire following, and liquefaction, the release is the first in the industry to include fully probabilistic landslide and tsunami models for Canada. Virtually every component of the updated model has undergone peer review.”

Guin says that the model will be a significant tool for compliance with OSFI Guideline B-9.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada selected AIR Worldwide to conduct the most comprehensive study of seismic risk in Canada ever undertaken. According to the IBC, AIR’s study will help drive a national discourse on mitigation, financial preparedness, and emergency response. (continued.)

“Based on their scientifically advanced modeling approach, IBC is confident AIR Worldwide was the right choice to undertake this important earthquake risk study for Canada,” says Gregor Robinson, senior vice president, policy and chief economist, Insurance Bureau of Canada. “We selected AIR after a competitive and rigorous RFP (request for proposal) process. AIR has deep knowledge in catastrophe risk management, including the impact of earthquake and tsunami on properties and infrastructure, and has been a great collaborator on this project.”  

The hazard component of the AIR Earthquake Model for Canada features a comprehensively updated seismicity model using the latest historical earthquake catalog from the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC), which has been shared with AIR ahead of the official release of the GSC’s national hazard map.

AIR used paleoseismic and active fault data in western Canada and constructed a comprehensive kinematic model using GPS and other geodetic data to estimate the accumulation of seismic energy in the Cascadia Subduction Zone and in the shallow crust of British Columbia. This physically based model is especially useful for estimating the recurrence rates for rare, very large magnitude earthquakes and source parameters for earthquakes capable of producing tsunamis.

In rebuilding the Earthquake Model for Canada, AIR made sure there was consistency between the U.S. and Canada earthquake models. A unified stochastic catalog for both the United States and Canada was created to enable catastrophe model users to quantify the risk to policies and portfolios that span the border.

AIR has incorporated state-of-the-art ground motion prediction equations into the Canada model. Detailed geotechnical and microzonation studies of several metropolitan areas, including Ottawa, Montreal, Victoria, and Vancouver, are used to account more accurately for the impact of surface soils on ground shaking. Major updates to the vulnerability module have been undertaken in collaboration with local engineering experts and reflect a sophisticated understanding of regional building practices and the evolution of building codes. Damage functions for industrial facilities and infrastructure have been added. (continued.)

AIR also completely updated the industry exposure database, which features a resolution of one kilometre nationwide, updated risk counts, adjusted construction costs and construction types, occupancy types, and policy terms.

The Earthquake Model for Canada is currently available in Version 2.0 of the Touchstone and Version 16 of the CATRADER catastrophe risk management systems.

See also: 'Earthquake awareness receives another jolt'

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