Earthquake Impact on Complex Infrastructure Networks

On average, a country's annual investment in infrastructure amounts to 3.5% of GDP, although in many (especially developing) countries this amount is significantly higher. A large proportion of this is related to infrastructure supporting rapidly expanding or strategically important urban areas. In earthquakes, although much of the human losses derive from damage to urban housing, the economic impact instead arises from damage to critical infrastructure such as transport, energy and other utilities and the knock-on effects of disruption to their functionality.

Interdependent networks

An example of the relationships between interdependent networks (Rinaldi et al., 2001*)

Furthermore significant interdependencies can exist between infrastructure systems in an urban area, meaning that damage to one system may result in disruption to other critical infrastructure. Evaluation of financial risk due to earthquakes therefore requires the development of sound methodologies for evaluating both the physical vulnerability of single elements of infrastructure and infrastructure systems, as well as the interdependencies between critical infrastructure systems serving an urban area. There is demand within the financial industry to better understand the implications of complex interdependent urban infrastructure systems designs in relation to investment volatility. In particular the issues related to extreme natural hazards, such as earthquakes, are currently unmodelled in this context and there are significant uncertainties related to loss potential. The ultimate goal is to support the international financial industry in their strategy towards the establishment of smart financial instruments dedicated to urban critical infrastructure.

Existing earthquake engineering methods for assessing the fragility of transport and energy infrastructure systems will be reviewed and assessed for adequacy and a systems engineering approach will be applied to unearth the interdependent relationships between infrastructure networks. These studies will be combined to propose a method for the evaluation of the earthquake risk to critical infrastructure within urban areas including considerations on how to account for uncertainty in seismic source. This method will then be tested on an as yet unidentified case study.

Sponsors: EPSRC (UCL EngD USAR) and Willis Research Network

Epicentre Staff Involved: Indranil KongarTiziana Rossetto

*Rinaldi, S. et al. 2001. Identifying, understanding and analyzing critical infrastructure interdependencies. IEEE Control Systems Magazine, vol. 21, no. 6, pp 11-25.