In countries with an advanced seismic technical culture, where best-practice hazard studies (which are therefore necessarily probabilistic) are available, the occurrence of a damaging event often triggers a debate, which is as understandable as it is delicate, aimed toward the verification and/or validation of the ground motion intensity estimates provided by the official hazard maps. Evaluations such as these are typically based either on the comparison of elastic response spectra derived from records of the event in question with uniform hazard (design) spectra, or on superimposing ground motion intensity measures on available hazard curves to retrieve the return period to which they correspond. This short note, using the recent 2012 Mw 6.0 Emilia (Italy) earthquake, discusses a few arguments, according to which this type of exercise should take into account the implications inherent in the probabilistic nature of hazard analyses, in order to avoid the risk of drawing conclusions that may be misleading or that may be likely to cause misconceptions about rationality of the current approach to seismic hazard.

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