Real-Time Loss Estimates after Earthquakes


WAPMERR provides loss estimates for earthquakes within less than two hours after they happen anywhere on the Globe. These are called real-time estimates. The purpose is to alert international rescue agencies and to test QLAM in a way that allows no subconscious adjusting of the results.

The alerts WAPMERR issues in collaboration with the Swiss Seismological Service include number of fatalities and injured, as well as average damage to buildings in the affected settlements. Tests show that in 85% of cases, earthquakes that cause major disasters can be distinguished from inconsequential ones.


The track record during a first phase of issuing alerts has been published: Wyss, M. (2004) In Disasters and Society - From Hazard Assessment to Risk Reduction (Eds, Malzahn, D. and Plapp, T.) Logos, Karlsruhe , pp. 165-173. 

The format of our current alerts is shown below for a typical event with low consequences.


The Following Earthquake has been Reported:

Date: 2006/10/12 17
Magnitude: M 5.5
Latitude: 39.81 N
Longitude: 54.67 E
Depth (km): 42.0
Institute: USGS
Injured Exp. min/max: 0 / 0
Fatalities Exp. min/max: 0 / 0

If the depth of 42 km is correct, then no injuries are expected. If the depth should be as shallow as 10 km, then 0 to 150 fatalities might be expected.

More Information can be found here:

Login Info for this Website: Username:'wapmerr' Password:'quakewap'

Max Wyss
Director WAPMERR
de Jargonnant 2
CH-1207 Geneve
tel: +41 (0)79
749 4894
home: +41 (0)21
808 8660
fax: +41 (0)21
808 8661

In addition to an estimate of the total losses, we distribute in our earthquake alerts a map of the area, showing the average loss in the affected settlements and a list of these settlements with differentiated loss estimates within each. An example is shown in Figure 1

  Figure 1 : Map of Sumatra that was posted on our web page within 30 minutes of the M8+ earthquake of March 2005, showing the average losses in settlements by a color code. We warned that more than 1000 fatalities may have to be expected. The final number of fatalities reported was 1313. The size of each dot is proportional to population.
  Loss Estimates by QLARM in Real Time gives a preliminary compilation of alerts distributed by email. It contains the parameters of the earthquakes, the estimated number of fatalities, the observed number (if available), and the minutes of delay after the earthquake and after the USGS hypocenter message (in the last two columns). The earthquakes selected depend on their magnitude and position on the Globe, according to the needs of the Swiss Corps for Humanitarian Aid.


The following Figures show the statistics of the real-time earthquake alerts issued by WAPMERR as a function of location, depth and magnitude, as well as their delays as a function of time.

Figure 2: Map of epicenters of earthquakes for which alerts were issued by WAPMERR in real time. Alerts were issued for all seismogenic parts of the Globe.


Figure 3: Histograms of numbers of alerts as a function of magnitude (left) and of hypocentral depth (right). The typical magnitude is about 6, the largest plotted on the graph with M8.5 was later assigned M9.3. Most of the depths are in the top 40 km of the earth. Only on occasion do we issue an alert for deep earthquakes.


Figure 4:
Time delay after the earthquakes at which WAPMERR issued a loss estimate. At present the average delay is 28 minutes.