SHAKYGROUND: simulating earthquake effects in urban and industrial areas

SHAKYGROUND is a software tool designed to provide the earthquakes effects estimation in urban, industrial areas and cities.
It provides the user a friendly environment allowing the simulation of strong ground motion by means of synthetic simulation of acceleration seismograms and the estimation of seismic load in a given area.
It forms the seismological base for the design of earthquake-resistant buildings and for land use planning. Moreover, it allows the identification of sites where the expected ground shaking is severe; this can be useful for emergency planning, as well as for enhancing earthquake awareness.
Strong ground motion is seriously affected by wave propagation effects caused by changes due to absorption, reflection and refraction at the boundaries of the geological structures.
The software tool incorporates concepts of the seismic source process and wave propagation effects which are well confirmed by numerous scientific studies and practical applications.
The problem of seismic load estimation is approached by means of synthetic simulation of acceleration seismograms, that gives the possibility to account for the specific geological site conditions and the characteristics of the seismotectonic zone.

The software works together with Google Earth to allow for an easy location of an earthquake.

Expected Results

SHAKYGROUND provides the user with a user friendly interface for tackling the complex problem of the assessment of seismic hazard.
The user interface allows to enter input values related to:
– the seismic source parameters
– the geotechnical parameters
– the calculation of response spectra
– some general information concerning the operation of program and its output.

The user’s experience is exploited for establishing the model parameters rather than for the search of a “suitable” experimental example seismogram. The mentioned simulation tool allows to vary the geotechnical and source parameters randomly disclosing the possibility to evaluate the stability of the results statistically.

Finally the program produces a report of important simulated engineering seismological signal parameters together with response spectra which can be directly compared to standard seismic codes (for ex. EC8, US Building Code).

The different levels of output enable the user to immediately check and evaluate the results of a simulation, which consist of:
– a plot of the response spectra and their statistical variation
– a table with important signal parameters, i.e., peak ground acceleration, velocity and displacement, the duration of strong ground motion, finally corresponding magnitude values.

Moreover the user can save results to a georeferenced data base, where they can be easily accessed for further processing with GIS-applications.


The benefits on using ShakyGround can be distinguished basing on the different categories of users.
1) Public Agencies (local, regional, national) interested to territory planning, emergency planning and seismic microzoning
Public Agencies may use SHAKYGROUND to identify critical points in a territory, spotting where damages would be grater if an earthquake should occur. The model can help the identification of areas and sites where severe ground shaking is expected, so that competent public authorities can adjust their territory planning (emergency, territorial, microzoning etc.).
2) Civil engineers, geologic and geotechnical consultants
These users may use SHAKYGROUND to obtain numerical data of earthquake ground motion at the level of the foundation of a building.
At the same time they can obtain the prevision of the seismic impact in a specific site where a building is planned to be erected or reconstructed or reinforced. Moreover they can insert the schemes of the synthetic seismogram resulted by the run of the simulations as input for their calculations.
3) Civil Protection
The necessities of these users are the same of those of the Public Agencies. The critical sites location allows the territorial planning and the emergency planning optimization. It will be possible to identify zones where earthquake damages will be particularly serious.
People living in these areas will have greater need of aid, and at the same time these areas would not have to be chosen for the deployment of first aid structures.
4) Insurance and re-insurance Companies
Companies that want to propose insurances contracts covering damages to buildings caused by earthquake, can use SHAKYGROUND to classify all sites on the basis of the estimated effects for several earthquake scenarios. The so obtained results of the seismic zoning would help the insurance companies to develop a specific marketing strategy for each of these areas.

Technical Approach

SHAKYGROUND is a software that runs on Microsoft Windows operating systems (95, 98, NT, 2000, XP, VISTA) and is based on the .NET 2.0 Framework and Visual Basic programming language.

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