15 Nov 2022
 | 15 Nov 2022

Criteria-based visualization design for hazard maps

Max Schneider, Fabrice Cotton, and Pia-Johanna Schweizer

Abstract. Probabilistic seismic hazard estimates are a key ingredient of earthquake risk mitigation strategies and are often communicated through seismic hazard maps. Though the literature suggests that visual design properties are key for effective communication using such maps, guidelines on how to optimally design hazard map are missing from the literature. Current maps use color palettes and data classification schemes which have well-reported limitations that may inadvertently miscommunicate seismic hazard. We surveyed the literature on color and classification schemes to identify design criteria that have empirical support for communicating hazard information. These criteria were then applied to redesign the seismic hazard map for Germany. We isolated several communication goals for this map, including essential properties about moderate-hazard seismic regions and a critical hazard threshold related to the German seismic building codes. We elucidate our redesign process and the selection of new colors and classification schemes that satisfy the evidence-based criteria. In a mixed-methods survey, we evaluate the original and redesigned seismic hazard maps, finding that the redesign satisfies all the communication goals, and improves users’ awareness about the spatial spread of seismic hazard, relative to the original. We consider practical implications for the design of hazard maps across the natural hazards.

Max Schneider et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-1064', Anonymous Referee #1, 23 Dec 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Max Schneider, 19 Mar 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-1064', Anonymous Referee #2, 06 Feb 2023
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Max Schneider, 19 Mar 2023

Max Schneider et al.


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Short summary
Hazard maps are fundamental to earthquake risk reduction but research is missing on how to design them. We review the visualization literature to identify evidence-based criteria for color and classification schemes for hazard maps. We implement these for the German seismic hazard map, focusing on communicating four properties of seismic hazard. Our evaluation finds that the redesigned map successfully communicates seismic hazard in Germany, improving on the baseline map for two key properties.