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The COSMOS/EERI/SSA Bruce Bolt Medal

Photo of Bruce Bolt

The Bruce Bolt Medal is awarded jointly by COSMOS, EERI, and SSA 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.

The award is issued annually and is presented to the recipient at the annual meeting of the recipient’s choice among the three sponsoring organizations.

View the Recipients

Call for Nominations

Members of EERI, SSA, and COSMOS are encouraged to submit nomination packages for this distinguished award. Nominations will be reviewed in confidence by a six-person Joint Nomination Panel formed by two representatives from each of the three sponsoring organizations. The recommended nominee will be considered in confidence by each organization’s Board of Directors for their approval and joint selection of the medalist.

Nominee Criteria

The following criteria are used to select the recipient:

  1. Promotion of strong-motion instrumentation or advancing strong-motion data processing or data utilization;
  2. Technical contributions in seismic engineering or engineering seismology; and
  3. Leadership in the transfer of knowledge into practice or policy that has led to improved seismic safety.

The Joint Nomination Panel is charged with applying these criteria to select a nominee worthy of the high level of professional recognition represented by the sponsorship of the Bruce Bolt Medal by SSA, COSMOS, and EERI. The panelists for 2016: Woody Savage (chair), COSMOS; Jose A. Martinez-Cruzado, SSA; Bob Nigbor, EERI; Chuck Real, EERI; and Robert Youngs, SSA. Please note that current members of the Joint Panel are not eligible for nomination.

The nomination letter, which should be no longer than two pages, must address the ways in which the candidate meets all three of the criteria. Along with the signed letter, the nomination package must include a substantial summary of the professional history of the candidate including employment, significant publications, honors, and activities and accomplishments relevant to the Bolt Medal criteria. The current contact information for the candidate must also be supplied. Up to three signed supporting letters (each no longer than two pages) may be included in the nomination package. Such letters should include a personal perspective on the nominee and his/her sustained impact on the field.

Please Note: The nomination period for the 2016 Bolt Medal is 1 August - 31 October 2015.

The final nomination deadline is 31 October 2015.

Incomplete nomination packages will not be considered by the Joint Nomination Panel.

Nomination Procedure

Nominations packages (preferably as one combined pdf file) for the Bruce Bolt Medal should be sent to the Bolt Medal Nomination Panel, in care of William (Woody) Savage at woodysavage [at] gmail [dot] com.

Questions regarding the Bolt Medal criteria or the nomination process for candidates may be directed to Woody at the above email address. While electronic submissions are preferred, in .pdf or .doc formats, hard copies may be sent to the following postal address. If hard copies are sent, the sender should notify Woody by email.

Bolt Medal Nomination Panel
In care of William Savage
1930 Village Center Circle #3-292
Las Vegas, NV 89134

Recipients of the COSMOS/EERI/SSA Bruce Bolt Medal

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.

Anderson will be honored with the Bruce A. Bolt Medal at the Seismological Society of America's annual meeting to be held April 21 – 23 in Pasadena, California.

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 Boğaziçi 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 5 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.

Erdik will be presented with his award at the EERI Annual Meeting in February 2013.

2012:  Norman A. Abrahamson

Photo of Norm AbrahamsonProfessor 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.

Abrahamson will be presented with his award at the COSMOS Annual Meeting and Technical Session in November 2012.

2011:  Kojiro Irikura

Photo of Kojiro IrikuraKojiro 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.

Irikura was presented with his award at SSA’s 2011 annual meeting in Memphis, Tennessee.

2010:  David Boore

Photo of Dave BooreBoore, 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.

The recipient of this medal is recognized by each of the three organizations that co-sponsor the award and receives the award at the meeting of his/her choice. Dave elected to receive his medal at the SSA Annual Meeting in Portland, OR in April 2010.

2009:  Wilfred D. (Bill) Iwan

Photo of Wilfred IwanIwan is honored for his many accomplishments in advancing earthquake strong-motion monitoring networks and instrumentation in the US 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.

Iwan received the Bolt Medal at the COSMOS Annual Meeting in November 2009.

Last Modified: 2015 Aug 20