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Bruce A. Bolt Medal



The Bruce Bolt Medal is awarded jointly by the Consortium of Strong Motion Observation Systems (COSMOS), the Seismological Society of America (SSA), and Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) to recognize individuals worldwide whose accomplishments involve the promotion and use of strong-motion earthquake data and whose leadership in the transfer of scientific and engineering knowledge into practice or policy has led to improved seismic safety.

2017: Fazad Naeim


Farzad Naeim (M. EERI, 1983), President of Farzad Naeim, Inc., has been named the 2017 recipient of the Bruce A. Bolt Medal. The Bruce Bolt Medal is awarded jointly by the Consortium of Strong Motion Observation Systems (COSMOS), the Seismological Society of America (SSA), and the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI).

For more than three decades, Dr. Naeim has been making significant contributions to earthquake engineering, technology and public policy. He consistently demonstrates extraordinary leadership transferring knowledge into practice to improve seismic safety. A prime example is his ongoing work with the City of Los Angeles to develop regulations for the design and construction of very tall buildings. His input and perseverance has resulted in significant seismic safety improvements in Los Angeles and other major cities.

Dr. Naeim has tirelessly served in leadership roles, including President of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI), Editor-in-Chief of Earthquake Spectra, Chair of the Governance Board of the U.S. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES), and Chair of the 10th U.S. National Conference on Earthquake Engineering. He currently serves on the Seismic Advisory Board of the California Department of Transportation (CALTRANS) and is the Chair of the California Strong Motion Instrumentation Advisory Committee of the Seismic Safety Commission (SMIAC).

Before founding his own firm, as Technical Director and General Counsel at John A. Martin & Associates (JAMA), Dr. Naeim established a mission to take the best technology publicly available and develop it into tailor-made design methodologies, analysis software, and earthquake-resistant design technologies that improve seismic safety. Over the years, he has developed 48 software systems for earthquake engineering design and education.

Dr. Naeim has often been recognized for excellence in his field. He received the Fazlur Khan Medal for life-time achievement from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat and has been awarded six Outstanding Journal Paper Awards from the Los Angeles Tall Buildings Structure and Design Council. He has authored four textbooks, 14 textbook chapters, more than 120 journal papers, and is the recipient of grants from such diverse agencies as EERI, FEMA, the County of Los Angeles, the California Strong Motion Instrumentation Program, Applied Technology Council (ATC), and the United States Geological Survey (USGS), for studying various damage characteristics of earthquakes and their impact on seismic design practice. Not one to rest on his laurels, 20 years after receiving his Ph.D., Farzad obtained a Juris Doctor degree. In addition to being a licensed Civil and Structural Engineer, he is a licensed Patent Attorney.

Dr. Naeim will receive the Bruce Bolt Medal at the EERI Annual Meeting on March 7-10, 2017 in Portland, Oregon. More information can be found at

2016: Roger D. Borcherdt


Roger D. Borcherdt, scientist emeritus at the U.S. Geological Survey and past Shimizu Visiting Professor and consulting professor at Stanford University, is the 2016 recipient of the Bruce A. Bolt Medal. The annual award is presented jointly by the Consortium of Strong Motion Observations Systems (COSMOS), Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI), and the Seismological Society of America (SSA). The Medal recognizes individuals worldwide whose accomplishments involve the promotion and use of strong-motion earthquake data and whose leadership in the transfer of scientific and engineering knowledge into practice or policy has led to improved seismic safety.

Dr. Borcherdt's career is marked with "exceptional scientific contributions in the fields of seismology and engineering seismology, extraordinarily broad in scope," as noted on the Presidential Distinguished Service Award he received in 2010 as the highest honor of the U.S. Department of Interior. His contributions, evident in 200 publications, include pioneering site-response studies resulting in Vs30 site-response characterization procedures adopted worldwide in building codes and seismic-hazard mitigation maps; theoretical solutions of fundamental wave propagation problems in seismology that extend the mathematical framework for seismology to all linear anelastic media as presented in his graduate-level textbook, Viscoelastic Waves in Layered Media; "scientific leadership in engineering seismology," as noted on his U.S. Department of Interior Meritorious Service Award (1993); and participation on several building code committees and advisory panels.

Borcherdt is a foremost authority on use of strong-motion data to characterize site response for use in building codes and seismic hazard evaluations. His initial pioneering work provided the first compelling evidence of site resonances on soft soils in the U.S., as published in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America in 1970. Subsequent comparative strong ground-motion and shear-wave velocity measurement studies in the San Francisco and Los Angeles regions under his leadership led to his introduction of the now-famous "Vs30" as a metric to distinguish site response characteristics of near-surface geologic deposits. His seminal paper on "Estimates of Site-Specific Response Spectra for Use in Earthquake Resistant Design," for which he received an "utstanding Paper Award" from Earthquake Spectra in 1994 provided the initial Vs30 definitions of site classes and corresponding strong-motion site coefficients that were adopted in consultation with many colleagues and applied to building codes that continue to be used throughout the world.

Borcherdt's 2009 graduate textbook Viscoelastic Waves in Layered Media provides general mathematical solutions for fundamental wave propagation problems in seismology that are valid for any layered media with a linear response, elastic or anelastic, regardless of the amount of intrinsic material absorption. These more general solutions, derived by the author, reveal new physical characteristics of P-and S-body waves and Rayleigh- and Love-Type surface waves in multi-layered anelastic earth models not predicted by previous theory. These more general solutions were termed at a recent workshop as a stepping stone to a new era in seismology, not only because they explain changes in amplitude, wave speed, and particle-motion characteristics along seismic ray paths that were previously unexplained, but also because they provide exact closed-form theoretical solutions for wave-propagation problems in an infinite number of types of anelastic media. The general solutions provide the basis to improve anelastic wave prediction and inversion models for a variety of problems in engineering, seismology, exploration geophysics, and solid mechanics.

Borcherdt's leadership as chief of various USGS projects and branches at the federal NSF-USGS National Strong-Motion Program resulted in the following accomplishments::

  • His coordination of the first USGS multidisciplinary seismic zonation effort (MF-709), resulting in maps used extensively in required California City and County Seismic Safety Elements and as prototypes for maps required by California Seismic Hazard Mapping Law AB-3897
  • His design with colleagues of the first microprocessor controlled wide-dynamic range (180dB) digital strong-motion recording system (GEOS, patent #4,603,486), as a prototype for commercial instrumentation
  • Numerous (>30) portable GEOS strong-motion aftershock studies in the U.S., Mexico, Chili, Canada, Armenia, South Africa, and Turkey, yielding new insights on earthquake-source, crustal-structure, and site-response characteristics
  • Installation of several permanent strong-motion arrays throughout the U.S., including integrated borehole soil-response arrays in San Francisco and the notable Parkfield, California, GEOS array with its unprecedented high resolution recordings of the 2004 M6 earthquake showing no discernible near-field precursory strain or displacement at sensitivities of 10-11 strain and 5x10-8 meters.

Borcherdt is an honorary member of EERI and has served as editor of Earthquake Spectra, EERI Vice President, and Honors Committee Chair. He is an active member of SSA and charter founding member of COSMOS. He currently chairs the Engineering Criteria Review Board for the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission and is a past member of several advisory committees, including Federal Emergency Management Agency's Working Group for Development of HAZUS, its Provision Update Committee for NEHRP Recommended Building Code Provisions, and its ATC-58 committee for development of provisions to include advancements in performance based design.

Borcherdt received his BA (1963) and MA (1965) degrees in theoretical mathematics from Universities of Colorado and Wisconsin, and M.S. (1970) and Ph.D. (1971) degrees in engineering geoscience from the University of California, Berkeley.

Dr. Borcherdt will receive his award at the SSA Annual Meeting on 20-22 April 2016 in Reno, Nevada.

2015: John Anderson


One of John Anderson's first publications in 1979 estimated the earthquake recurrence rate on a fault by incorporating how much a fault slips each year, a novel approach to examining seismicity that foreshadowed the impact of his research on seismic hazard assessment.

Anderson, a professor of geophysics at the University of Nevada at Reno (UNR), has contributed to all aspects of engineering seismology, including the physical processes controlling strong ground motion and applications of geological and seismological information to estimate seismicity and seismic hazards. For his work, Anderson will be honored with the Bruce A. Bolt Medal, which recognizes individuals who use strong-motion earthquake data and transfer scientific and engineering knowledge into practice or policy for improved seismic safety. The honor is a joint award given by the Consortium of Organizations for Strong-Motion Observation Systems, the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute and the Seismological Society of America.

Prior to UNR, Anderson earned his doctorate at Columbia University and held research positions at the California Institute of Technology, University of Southern California and University of California at San Diego. With more than 180 publications during his career, Anderson's work reflects all aspects of observational and theoretical ground-motion seismology and seismic hazard estimation. His 1984 paper, co-authored with Susan Hough, introduced kappa as a parameter in the description of high-frequency acceleration spectra. Later papers presented ground-motion prediction equations, probabilistic seismic hazard analysis and the use of precariously balanced rocks and other fragile geological features for testing the predictions of likely ground motion from future earthquakes.

During his 27-year tenure at UNR, Anderson has focused on ground-motion data of major earthquakes, while also serving as director of the Nevada Seismological Lab at UNR for 11 years and as a member of the Nevada Earthquake Safety Council and various national committees. Currently he is chairing the National Steering Committee for National Seismic Hazard and Risk Assessment in support of the U.S. Geological Survey National Seismic Hazard Maps.

Anderson participated in the development of the National Seismic Hazard Maps for the 1996, 2002, 2008 and 2014 revisions. For the 1996 maps Anderson advocated use of early geodetic evidence for a zone of increased activity in the Nevada region that boosted the hazard of Reno above that of the Central Nevada Seismic Zone, even though that zone had ruptured most recently in a sequence of M7-class earthquakes from 1915-1954. Subsequent geodetic and geologic research has confirmed this recommendation. It was not until the 2014 maps that geodetic data was sufficient to be used in a major, systematic way to develop the seismicity models for a large region, specifically all of California, with lesser influence in the rest of the western United States. The impact of Anderson's work spans the world, contributing to the installation of strong motion networks in Mexico, Turkey, Los Angeles and the Eastern U.S., collaborations to interpret data from those networks, and research collaborations with numerous scientists in Japan and other Asian countries, Latin America, and Europe.

2014: Anthony F. Shakal


Dr. Shakal has been associated with the California Geological Survey's Strong Motion Instrumentation Program (SMIP) for the past 32 years, and has successfully grown and led the Program for the past 27 years.

Under Dr. Shakal's direct supervision and innovative management, the SMIP operates the largest and most advanced strong-motion network in the United States. The SMIP also is the largest strong-motion component in the U. S. Geological Survey's Advanced National Seismic System. In 2006 at the commemoration of the Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, the SMIP received the Applied Technology Council/Engineering News Record joint award as the Best Seismic Program of the Twentieth Century.

To date, Tony's SMIP group has installed over 5,000 accelerometers at nearly 1,200 stations around the State. These seismic monitors have been placed in over 850 free-field ground stations, and in more than 80 bridges and 200 buildings. Ground motion and structural response data gathered from this network are directly employed in the California Building Code to make structures more earthquake resilient. Two very recent examples of Tony's diverse skills can be seen in the successful completions of the Rincon One Tower, and the new Oakland Bay Bridge just being completed.

The Rincon One Tower building is 64 stories in height and sits atop the Rincon Hill at the edge of San Francisco Bay. It is the most densely instrumented high-rise residential building in the United States, and perhaps in the world. Tony's great skills became clear when, after three years of detailed preparation with the building's owners to install seismic CGS monitoring equipment, the USGS asked to join in with a new instrumentation layout and process. Tony delicately re-negotiated new terms with the building's owners, and in a cooperative effort between the CGS/SMIP and the USGS, successfully completed the project with no hitches, on time, on budget, and without disturbing any of the tenants. This unique structurally designed building has real-time seismic monitoring on nearly every floor.

Scheduled to open the first week in September 2013 is the $6.5 Billion Oakland Bay Bridge, with its structurally unique, slim flyover design and self-anchored cable suspension signature section. Under Tony's personal oversight, 220 seismic instruments have been installed. Because of the bridge's unique design, and constant structural changes and construction problems, the task for the SMIP crews has been exceptionally intense. Tony's diplomatic skills and his well-respected professional and technical engineering abilities enabled SMIP to install instruments from the base of the bridge's footings deep under the bay's seabed, to the top of the signature section mast several hundred feet above the roadbed. Even the suspension cables have sensors to monitor the bridge's unique structural design responses.

Dr. Shakal continues to expand and promote the educational and communication links between the Structural Engineering and Seismological communities through financially supporting an annual conference in which SMIP-sponsored research papers are presented (this year, SMIP '13 is in Los Angeles). He participates as an active member of the standards setting Consortium of Organizations for Strong Motion Observation Systems (COSMOS), and works closely with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), and the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development related to earthquake engineering for hospitals. Tony, also, finds time to write technical research papers to help publicize the latest findings from the programs he oversees.

2013: Mustafa Erdik


Mustafa Erdik's career has been marked by inspiring leadership guiding ambitious Turkish and international programs; distinguished research discoveries highly cited by researchers; practical seismic hazards software that is prized among practitioners; and stellar success in bringing high-quality ground and building instrumentation networks to his nation.

Erdik is recognized by engineers and seismologists worldwide as an expert on strong-motion characterization, earthquake hazard and risk assessment. Following his Ph.D. in 1975 from Rice University, he joined Middle East Technical University in Ankara and served as the Director of the Earthquake Engineering Research Center. In 1988 he joined Bogazici University in Istanbul, where he now serves as Director of the esteemed Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute. He founded the Department of Earthquake Engineering in 1989, one of the few in the world, and has mentored and supervised fifty graduate students. Since 1995 he has been editor-in-chief of Soil Dynamics and Earthquake Engineering, and is currently president of the Turkish Earthquake Engineering Research Committee. The Istanbul Earthquake Rapid Response and Early Warning System, composed of 200 real-time strong motion accelerometers and five sea-bottom accelerometers in Marmara Sea, was built and operated under Erdik's direction. He has also directed the installation of structural health monitoring arrays in UNESCO World Heritage treasures Hagia Sophia and Suleymaniye Mosque, as well as in suspension bridges, tunnels and tall buildings, nuclear facilities, LNG tanks, and petroleum pipelines.

Erdik has focused his prodigious energies on the vulnerability of large urban centers. This was a prescient insight, as today we all have come to recognize that the threat of urban earthquakes is the Achilles heel of the modern world. Erdik directed the development of a new algorithm for urban earthquake risk assessment (KOERI-LOSS), producing sobering scenario loss assessments for Izmir, Istanbul, Tashkent and Bishkek. He then went on to develop the software package, ELER (Earthquake Loss Estimation Routine), for the estimation of earthquake shaking and losses throughout the Euro-Mediterranean region. ELER is used in many countries for scenario earthquake loss and post-earthquake rapid shake and damage map assessments. Today, there are few more powerful ways to enrich and assist others than through software. The Scientific Board of the Global Earthquake Model seeks 'luminary evangelists,' outstanding scientists and skilled international leaders who can inspire those around them. Erdik is the embodiment of this ideal, serving the Board with distinction for three years.

Erdik has an outstanding record of original research contributions, with Erdik et al. (Soil Dynamics & Earthquake Engineering, 2004), Erdik et al. (Bull. Earthquake Engineering, 2003), and Erdik et al. (Tectonophysics, 1985) as stand-outs. His paper, "Probabilistic Benefit-Cost Analysis for Earthquake Damage Mitigation: Evaluating Measures for Apartment Houses in Turkey" (Smyth et al., Earthquake Spectra, 2004) is one of the most important contributions to mitigation and preparedness in a decade, because this study rigorously demonstrates that retrofits—something that so many people could do—work.

Through exceptional people like Mustafa, the science advances, the practice advances, and the indispensible measurements on which the future of our science depends, are made.

2012: Norman A. Abrahamson


Professor Bruce Bolt was recognized in his time by earthquake engineers and seismologists worldwide as the expert in engineering seismology. His PhD student, Dr. Norman Abrahamson, is now advancing the leading edge of the field and is arguably the world's foremost authority on engineering seismology.

Following his PhD in 1985, Abrahamson worked for several consulting companies and as an independent consultant, then joined Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) in 1996, where he is currently employed as Chief Scientist in the Geosciences Department. In parallel, he has consulted on many projects worldwide and, since 2003, serves as an Adjunct Professor of Civil Engineering at the UC Berkeley and Davis campuses. He is an active member of SSA, EERI and COSMOS, and has held leadership positions on each organization's Board of Directors. Abrahamson authored with Bolt some of the pioneering papers to answer practical and significant engineering problems regarding seismic wave coherency and spatial variation of seismic wave forms, and also provided one of the first estimates of fault rupture velocity and direction, which has applications in directivity analyses. Abrahamson has become a leader in the development of ground-motion prediction equations (GMPEs) and in analyzing the statistical properties of peak parameters and their variability.

Abrahamson's strong leadership is due in good part to his rare ability to not only focus on resolving technical issues arising in challenging, state-of-the-art projects, but also to recognize the need for changes in engineering practice and make them happen. He has improved regression procedures used in GMPE development, improved methods for spectral matching, and provided a verified Probabilistic Seismic Hazard Analysis (PSHA) code that is widely used in industry. This work has been part of his initiative to address practical issues of time-series selection and scaling in structural analysis. He has helped initiate and guide research efforts that directly impact engineering seismological practice, including the PG&E Lifelines, NGA-West, and NGA-East programs at PEER, and the Extreme Ground Motion Program sponsored by the Department of Energy. Abrahamson has also provided essential technical leadership in two recent and significant ground-motion characterization studies using expert elicitation: the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository project and the Swiss PEGASOS project. Currently, he is the Technical Integrator for the SSHAC Level 3 PSHA studies for the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant and BC Hydro. In these and like projects, his direction is to "focus on what matters."

Building understanding and improving communications between the seismological and engineering communities is an ongoing outcome of Abrahamson's efforts. As an adjunct professor and a guest lecturer, he has been teaching classes on strong-motion seismology and PSHA with the particular goal of preparing the next generation of engineering seismologists and earthquake engineers, thereby improving the health of the engineering seismology profession itself. He takes an active role in educating current practitioners and frequently speaks at public conferences and private meetings where he focuses on PSHA and the proper use of strong ground-motion data.

2011: Kojiro Irikura


Kojiro Irikura has made an enormous contribution to the analysis and sharing of strong-motion earthquake data throughout his career in Japan. During his career at the Disaster Prevention Research Institute of Kyoto University, Irikura, authored nearly 200 publications, supervised more than 30 students in advanced degrees and became a fixture at international conferences and meetings. For the past decade, he has also served as a member of the national committees that decide on steps to be taken to mitigate the effects of earthquakes in Japan. Those decisions often trickle down to other countries wrestling with mitigating earthquake risk.

The two best networks in the world for recording strong motions (K-NET and KiK-net) are both in Japan. Irikura's leadership in the construction and operation of the CEORKA (Committee of Earthquake Observation and Research in the Kansai Area) network was the impetus for both. The CEORKA network was deployed just in time to record the 1995 Kobe earthquake. Within one and a half years of the Kobe earthquake, the National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention (NIED) deployed the K-NET (Kyoshin Net). NIED freely distributed the data on the Internet as was the policy of CEORKA, and Irikura was behind this decision. This helped create the culture of sharing that has characterized Japanese seismological networks ever since. As Chair of the Committee on Strong Ground Motion of the Seismological Society of Japan, Irikura recommended the design for KiK-net that includes collocated borehole and surface instruments.

Irikura is the world's foremost proponent of the use of the summation of empirical Green's functions (EGF) to simulate strong motion from large magnitude earthquakes. Realizing that EGFs are not always available, Irikura and his colleagues pioneered the development of the hybrid method for simulating strong ground motion. In this method the low frequency ground motion is computed numerically knowing the basic 3D structure of the medium, while the high frequency ground motion is calculated using a stochastic method. Matched filters are used to combine the low and high frequency contributions to produce broadband simulated ground motion time histories.

Irikura has also developed robust methods of estimating site effects including basin effects and nonlinearity. One of the most critical results comes from analysis of the Port Island borehole records of the Kobe earthquake. He used immediate aftershocks to show that the soil recovered from strong nonlinearity quickly - in more than three hours but less than 24 hours. The Prime Minister of Japan twice recognized Irikura for his contributions to the seismic safety of Japan. He was honored as a Disaster Prevention Contributor and Safety Contributor by the Prime Minister, and as a Nuclear Safety Contributor by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry. Irikura was also President of the Seismological Society of Japan and President of the Japan Association for Earthquake Engineering. Many of his students are now university professors in Japan, Turkey, Mexico and Costa Rica. In addition to his work in Japan, Irikura also helped implement strong motion networks in Mexico.

2010: David Boore


Boore, a geophysicist with the United State Geological Survey, developed SMSIM, a well-known method for computing estimates of ground motion from simulated earthquakes that is used by engineers and designers.

With more than 230 publications during his career, Boore's work has advanced the understanding of strong-motion seismology. Focusing primarily on strong ground motion, Boore's work has influenced seismic building standards and improved seismic safety in the U.S. and around the world. During his career, Boore has focused on the prediction of strong ground shaking, both from analysis of observed data and from simulations.

Boore has been on the forefront of improving ground motion prediction equations (GMPEs). Between 1982 and 2008, one can find at least 20 significant publications published by Boore on GMPEs that delve into critical issues for the central and eastern United States, extensional regimes, subduction zones and other regions of the world including Taiwan, Turkey and Europe.

Those efforts throughout Boore's career have had profound effects on seismic design. He has been directly involved with the USGS efforts in developing the national hazard maps that affect building design across the nation. He is currently involved with the seismic design for the proposed nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain.

2009: Wilfred (Bill) D. Iwan


Iwan is honored for his many accomplishments in advancing earthquake strong-motion monitoring networks and instrumentation in the U.S. and internationally, his research accomplishments in earthquake engineering and engineering seismology, and his effective leadership roles in professional organizations to further the acquisition and application of strong-motion data. Notable among these activities is his organization and leadership in 1978 of the International Workshop on Strong-motion Earthquake Instrumentation Arrays, which produced a visionary plan for networks and dense arrays focused on collecting the data needed for the development and predictive testing of earthquake engineering modeling methods. He has also served as chair of the IAEE-IASPEI International Strong-Motion Array Council and has chaired the California Strong-Motion Instrumentation Advisory Committee in the past two decades.

COSMOS is a non-profit organization whose goal is to expand and significantly modernize the acquisition and application of strong-motion data in order to increase public safety from earthquakes.

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