Probabilistic seismic hazard analysis (PSHA) integrates over all potential earthquake occurrences and ground motions to estimate the mean frequency of exceedance of any given spectral acceleration at the site. For improved communication and insights, it is becoming common practice to display the relative contributions to that hazard from the range of values of magnitude, M, distance, R, and epsilon, ɛ, the number of standard deviations from the median ground motion as predicted by an attenuation equation.

The proposed disaggregation procedures, while conceptually similar, differ in several important points that are often not reported by the researchers and not appreciated by the users. We discuss here such issues, for example, definition of the probability distribution to be disaggregated, different disaggregation techniques, disaggregation of R versus ln R, and the effects of different binning strategies on the results. Misconception of these details may lead to unintended interpretations of the relative contributions to hazard.

Finally, we propose to improve the disaggregation process by displaying hazard contributions in terms of not R, but latitude, longitude, as well as M and ɛ. This permits a display directly on a typical map of the faults of the surrounding area and hence enables one to identify hazard-dominating scenario events and to associate them with one or more specific faults, rather than a given distance. This information makes it possible to account for other seismic source characteristics, such as rupture mechanism and near-source effects, during selection of scenario-based ground-motion time histories for structural analysis.

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