Vulnerability assessment of archaeological sites to earthquake hazard: An indicator based method integrating spatial and temporal aspects

Despina Minos-Minopoulos, Dale Dominey-Howes, Kosmas Pavlopoulos


Across the world, numerous sites of cultural heritage value are at risk from a variety of human-induced and natural hazards such as war and earthquakes. Here we present and test a novel indicator-based method for assessing the vulnerability of archaeological sites to earthquakes. Vulnerability is approached as a dynamic element assessed through a combination of spatial and temporal parameters. The spatial parameters examine the susceptibility of the sites to the secondary Earthquake Environmental Effects of ground liquefaction, landslides and tsunami and are expressed through the Spatial Susceptibility Index (SSi). Parameters of physical vulnerability, economic importance and visitors density examine the temporal vulnerability of the sites expressed through the Temporal Vulnerability Index (TVi). The equally weighted sum of the spatial and temporal indexes represents the total Archaeological Site Vulnerability Index (A.S.V.I.). The A.S.V.I method is applied at 16 archaeological sites across Greece, allowing an assessment of their vulnerability. This then allows the establishment of a regional and national priority list for considering future risk mitigation. Results indicate that i) the majority of the sites have low to moderate vulnerability to earthquake hazard, ii) Neratzia Fortress on Kos and Heraion on Samos are characterised as highly vulnerable and should be prioritised for further studies and mitigation measures, and iii) the majority of the sites are susceptible to at least one Earthquake Environmental Effect and present relatively high physical vulnerability attributed to the existing limited conservation works. This approach highlights the necessity for an effective vulnerability assessment methodology within the existing framework of disaster risk management for cultural heritage. 


Vulnerability assessment; indicator based method; Earthquake Environmental Effects; Cultural heritage protection; Disaster risk management framework

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Published by INGV, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia - ISSN: 2037-416X