APPENDIX A
Major Federal Earthquake Programs

Federal funding of earthquake research began in 1930 with the expen diture of about $10,000 for support of seismology, increasing to approximately $500,000 by 1957. The Department of Defense initiated Project Vela Uniform in 1959 to obtain a better understanding of seismic phenomena needed for nuclear test detection and treaty verification, and by 1961 the total federal expenditures for seismological research had risen to almost $30 million, much of it for deployment of the World Wide Standardized Seismographic Network. Support in this area began to decline in 1964 as Vela Uniform achieved its research goals, and the research programs sponsored by the Department of Commerce, Department of the Interior, and National Science Foundation (NSF) were reoriented toward the investigation of earthquake hazards. In 1967, the total federal support for earthquake research was $7.4 million, with this amount split approximately equally between engineering and geoscience studies.

The first official call for a comprehensive program of earthquake research in the United States came in 1965 from a select committee convened by the President’s Office of Science and Technology, chaired by Frank Press (1). Although its major recommendations were not implemented immediately, the committee’s report initiated a series of assessments in earthquake science and engineering that continued into the next decade (2). Motivated by these studies and spurred by the disastrous 1971 San Fernando earthquake in southern California, Congress established the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program (NEHRP) in 1977 with the authorization of $55 million dollars for the U.S. Geological Sur-



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APPENDIX A Major Federal Earthquake Programs Federal funding of earthquake research began in 1930 with the expen diture of about $10,000 for support of seismology, increasing to approximately $500,000 by 1957. The Department of Defense initiated Project Vela Uniform in 1959 to obtain a better understanding of seismic phenomena needed for nuclear test detection and treaty verification, and by 1961 the total federal expenditures for seismological research had risen to almost $30 million, much of it for deployment of the World Wide Standardized Seismographic Network. Support in this area began to decline in 1964 as Vela Uniform achieved its research goals, and the research programs sponsored by the Department of Commerce, Department of the Interior, and National Science Foundation (NSF) were reoriented toward the investigation of earthquake hazards. In 1967, the total federal support for earthquake research was $7.4 million, with this amount split approximately equally between engineering and geoscience studies. The first official call for a comprehensive program of earthquake research in the United States came in 1965 from a select committee convened by the President’s Office of Science and Technology, chaired by Frank Press (1). Although its major recommendations were not implemented immediately, the committee’s report initiated a series of assessments in earthquake science and engineering that continued into the next decade (2). Motivated by these studies and spurred by the disastrous 1971 San Fernando earthquake in southern California, Congress established the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program (NEHRP) in 1977 with the authorization of $55 million dollars for the U.S. Geological Sur-

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vey (USGS) and NSF. NEHRP continues to be the mainstay of federal support for earthquake studies. NEHRP was established by the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977 (Public Law 95-124) to “reduce the risks of life and property from future earthquakes in the U.S.…” The act authorized additional funds for the USGS and NSF to conduct wide-ranging studies on the fundamental causes of earthquakes with several practical objectives, including the identification of earthquake hazards; the development of an earthquake prediction capability; the preparation of plans for mitigation, preparedness, and response activities; the development of seismic design and construction standards; and the education of the public about earthquakes hazards. In 1980, the act was amended to include the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST, then the National Bureau of Standards) and to designate the newly created Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as the lead agency. The roles of the four agencies were further clarified in the 1990 NEHRP Reauthorization Act, which cast their primary responsibilities as follows: FEMA coordinates the NEHRP program, plans and manages the federal response to earthquakes, funds state and local preparedness exercises, and supports the development of improved seismic design and construction techniques for new buildings and retrofit guidelines for existing buildings. USGS conducts and supports Earth science investigations into the origins of earthquakes, predicts earthquake effects, characterizes earthquake hazards, and disseminates Earth science information. NSF funds earthquake engineering research, basic Earth science research, and earthquake-related social science research. NIST conducts and supports engineering studies to improve seismic provisions of building codes, standards, and practices for buildings and lifelines. Congress reauthorizes the program at intervals of one to three years, most recently for FY 2001 ($101.5 million), FY 2002 ($105.8 million), and FY 2003 ($110.3 million) (3). The split among the agencies for FY 2001 is 48 percent (USGS), 30 percent (NSF), 20 percent (FEMA), and 2 percent (NIST). The President’s budget request for FY 2003 is $117.9 million. Appropriations for NEHRP have declined significantly in constant dollars since the late 1970s. In addition to funding ongoing earthquake hazards activities of the four NEHRP agencies, the Earthquake Hazard Reduction Authorization Act of 2000 authorizes the establishment and operation of the Advanced National Seismic Research and Monitoring System (ANSS) and the Net-

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work for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES). The purpose of the ANSS is to “organize, modernize, standardize, and stabilize the national, regional, and urban seismic monitoring systems in the United States, including sensors, recorders, and data analysis centers, into a coordinated system that will measure and record the full range of frequencies and amplitudes exhibited by seismic waves, in order to enhance earthquake research and warning capabilities.” The act authorizes five years of USGS funding to establish the system ($33 million to $35 million per year) and two years of operating funds ($4.5 million in FY 2002 and $10.3 million in FY 2003). NEES was established at NSF to “upgrade, link, and integrate a system of geographically distributed experimental facilities for earthquake engineering testing of full-sized structures and their components and partial-scale physical models.” The program was authorized for four years, including $28.2 million in FY 2001, $24.4 million in FY 2002, $4.5 million in FY 2003, and $17 million in FY 2004. In addition to the four designated NEHRP agencies, a number of federal agencies conduct earthquake loss reduction activities, including the Department of Energy (seismic regulations for nuclear and conventional power plants), Department of Transportation (seismic regulations for bridges and highways), Environmental Protection Agency (control of hazardous materials), General Services Administration (standards for federal construction), Department of Veterans Affairs (standards for hospital construction), Nuclear Regulatory Commission (seismic and earthquake engineering criteria for nuclear power plants), and Department of Housing and Urban Development (repair and rehabilitation of residential structures). Many of these agencies also engage in earthquake research and development, including the following: Department of Defense: The Army Corps of Engineers conducts seismic research at its laboratories, and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency funds university research related to seismic monitoring of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Department of Energy (DOE): Los Alamos National Laboratory programs include basic research on the physical properties of Earth materials, reservoir microearthquakes, and earthquake strong motion; the development of seismic imaging methods and microborehole tools; and operation of the Los Alamos Seismographic Network. DOE’s Nuclear Explosion Monitoring Program is responsible for providing the United States National Data Center with analytic tools to monitor underground nuclear explosions. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: The National Hazard Data Center collects post-event data and images, and assists in the

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detection, location, and evaluation of the extent of certain hazards using satellite data. National Aeronautics and Space Administration: The Solid Earth and Natural Hazards Program sponsors research and disaster reduction based on remote-sensing technologies such as the Global Positioning System and synthetic aperture radar. The National Earthquake Loss Reduction Program was proposed in 1996 to coordinate these activities (4), but it has never been fully implemented. NOTES 1.   Office of Science and Technology, Earthquake Prediction: A Proposal for a Ten Year Program of Research, White House, Washington, D.C., 134 pp., 1965. 2.   Among the reports that led to congressional enactment of NEHRP were the following: Ad Hoc Interagency Working Group, Proposal for a Ten-Year National Earthquake Hazard Program, Federal Council for Science and Technology, Washington, D.C., 1968; National Research Council, Earthquake Engineering Research, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1969; General Accounting Office, Need for a National Earthquake Research Program, GAO report B-175621, Washington, D.C., 1972; Earthquake Prediction and Hazard Mitigation, Options for USGS and NSF Programs, National Science Foundation and U.S. Geological Survey, Washington, D.C., 1976. An interesting account of the programmatic development of earthquake science in the United States is given by R.E. Wallace in Earthquakes, Minerals, and Me, Oral History Interviews with S. Scott, U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 96-260, Menlo Park, Calif., pp. 60-84, 1996. 3.   Earthquake Hazards Reduction Authorization Act of 2000, Public Law 106-503. 4.   National Earthquake Strategy Working Group, Strategy for National Earthquake Loss Reduction, prepared for the National Science and Technology Council, April 1996, <http://www.ostp.gov/NSTC/html/USGS/>.