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Professor Nicolas Neocles Ambraseys Dip.Eng DIC PhD FICE FREng (Greek: Νικόλαος Αμβράζης, born 1929 in Greece) is a Greek Engineering Seismologist. He was Professor and now Emeritus Professor of Engineering Seismology and Senior Research Fellow at Imperial College London.


Professor Ambraseys studied Rural and Surveying Engineering at the National Technical University of Athens (Diploma in 1952) and then Civil Engineering at Imperial College specialising in Soil Mechanics and Engineering Seismology. He worked with Professors Alec Skempton and Alan W. Bishop and obtained his PhD degree in 1958; his thesis title was "The seismic stability of earth dams". He joined the staff in 1958 as a Lecturer and he was appointed a Reader in Engineering Seismology in 1968 and full Professor of Engineering Seismology in 1974.

In 1968 he established the Engineering Seismology Section (ESEE) (now part of the Geotechnics Section) in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering of Imperial College and served as its first Head from 1971 to 1994, until he retired and was reappointed as Senior Research Investigator. He founded and became the first chairman of the British National Committee of Earthquake Engineering.

Scientific work

His major research focuses on Engineering Seismology and Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering. He specialised in Earthquake Hazard Assessment, the earthquake resistant design of geotechnical structures (dams and foundations) and strong-motion seismology; on which he published widely, provided consulting services and edited work of other colleagues in numerous journals.

His doctoral work on the seismic stability of dams (1958) dealt, among other issues, with the prediction of permanent displacements in earth dams after earthquakes and formed the basis of what is today known as the Newmark's sliding block analysis method (1965). Newmark himself acknowledged [1] Ambraseys' contribution to this method through various discussions between the two researchers while the latter was a Visiting Professor at the University of Illinois.

He was extensively involved in the European Strong Motion Database project. He also worked on hydrodynamics and investigated how to calculate hydrodynamic forces on various types of structures. Moreover, his contribution to tsunamis has been significant, and there is an intensity scale named after him (Sieberg-Ambraseys Tsunami Intensity Scale) [2] [3].

He is a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, of the European Academy, of the Academy of Athens and the medallist of a number of UK and European learned societies. Professor Ambraseys was invited in 2004 to deliver the 44th Rankine Lecture of the British Geotechnical Society, titled Engineering, seismology and soil mechanics.


^ Newmark, N. M. (1965) Effects of earthquakes on dams and embankments. Geotechnique, 15 (2) 139-160.
^ Ambraseys, N. N. (1962). Data for the investigation of seismic sea waves in the Eastern Mediterranean. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 52, 895 – 913.
^ Sieberg-Ambraseys Tsunami Intensity Scale


Ambraseys N. (1958), The seismic stability of earth dams. PhD Thesis, Imperial College, University of London

Harry Fielding Reid Medal Citation for Nicholas Ambraseys [1]

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