Bayesian networks are a powerful and increasingly popular tool for reasoning under uncertainty, offering intuitive insight into (probabilistic) data-generating processes. They have been successfully applied to many different fields, including bioinformatics. In this paper, Bayesian networks are used to model the joint-probability distribution of selected earthquake, site, and ground-motion parameters. This provides a probabilistic representation of the independencies and dependencies between these variables. In particular, contrary to classical regression, Bayesian networks do not distinguish between target and predictors, treating each variable as random variable. The capability of Bayesian networks to model the ground-motion domain in probabilistic seismic hazard analysis is shown for a generic situation. A Bayesian network is learned based on a subset of the Next Generation Attenuation (NGA) dataset, using 3342 records from 154 earthquakes. Because no prior assumptions about dependencies between particular parameters are made, the learned network displays the most probable model given the data. The learned network shows that the ground-motion parameter (horizontal peak ground acceleration, PGA) is directly connected only to the moment magnitude, Joyner–Boore distance, fault mechanism, source-to-site azimuth, and depth to a shear-wave horizon of 2.5 km/s (Z2.5). In particular, the effect of VS30 is mediated by Z2.5. Comparisons of the PGA distributions based on the Bayesian networks with the NGA model of Boore and Atkinson (2008) show a reasonable agreement in ranges of good data coverage.

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