B. A. Geophysics,
University of California, Berkeley. 1981

Ph.D. Geophysics,
University of California, Berkeley. 1985


Professional History

  • 1996 – present Engineering Seismologist, Pacific Gas & Electric Co.
  • 1990 – present Engineering Seismology Consultant
  • 1989 – 1990 Project Seismologist, Woodward-Clyde Consultants
  • 1988 – 1989 Senior Seismologist, Bechtel Civil Inc.
  • 1985 – 1988 Seismologist, Bechtel Inc.
  • 1984 – 1985 Seismologist (part-time), Harding Lawson Associates
  • 1981 – 1985 Research Assistant, University of California, Berkeley


Dr. Abrahamson has extensive experience in probabilistic seismic hazard analyses including complete statistical treatment of variability (randomness vs uncertainty). He has conducted many seismic hazard studies for projects in the Western United States and for several projects outside of the U.S. He has also taught a graduate course on probabilistic seismic hazard analyses at U.C. Berkeley, U.C. Davis, UCLA, UC San Diego, Stanford, and the U. Texas.

Dr. Abrahamson has studied the spatial variation of ground motions over short distances and has developed empirical spatial coherency functions and a method for generating multiple-support time histories that are compatible with the coherency function. These coherency functions have been used for bridges, nuclear power plants, and rail lines. Dr. Abrahamson has worked in evaluating numerical modeling predictions of ground motions as part of several projects including the Diablo Canyon LTSP, EPRI Eastern U.S. ground motion study, SCEC scenario earthquake time history study, and Yucca Mountain scenario earthquake time history study. At PG&E, Dr. Abrahamson is responsible for developing ground for seismic evaluations of PG&E facilities including nuclear power plants, nuclear waster storage, dams, penstocks, electric substations, office buildings, and gas pipelines. He is also responsible for the technical management of the PG&E seismic research program funded through the Pacific Engineering Research Center. As a consultant, Dr. Abrahamson was the leader of the ground motion characterization study for the proposed nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mtn. Dr. Abrahamson is currently the leader of the ground motion and site response characterization studies for the PEGASOS project in Switzerland. This is a major PSHA study (similar in scope to Yucca Mtn) conducted to evaluate the seismic hazard at the Swiss nuclear power plants, including probabilistic treatment of site response effects.

Professional Data

Member of the Seismological Society of America, Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, American Society of Civil Engineers, and American Geophysical Union. He is a past member of the board of directors of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute and a present member of the board of directors for the Seismological Society of America

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