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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. Professor Bolt’s legacy of involvement with the three sponsoring organizations and contributions to the fields of seismological science, engineering seismology, and seismic safety policy inspired the creation of this award following his death in 2005.

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 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 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 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 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 teh field.

Please Note: The closing date for submitting nominations for the 2014 award is August 31st, 2013. Incomplete nomination packages will not be considered by the Joint Nomination Panel.

Nomination Procedure

Nominations packages (preferablly 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

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: 2013 Jun 03

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