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Dr. Clotaire Michel

Senior Researcher

Dr.  Clotaire Michel
Swiss Seismological Service (SED)
ETH Zürich
Dr. Clotaire Michel
NO H 55
Sonneggstrasse 5
8092 Zürich

  +41 44 633 70 94

Clotaire Michel is interested in all aspects of seismic risk assessment, from ground motion analysis to casualty mitigation, with a focus on the vulnerability of civil engineering structures. He holds an engineering degree from the Ecole des Mines (Nancy, France), a PhD and the Habilitation in Earth Sciences from the University of Grenoble (France). He currently works at the Swiss Seismological Service as a senior researcher since December 2009.

Clotaire has developed analysis methods for ambient vibrations in civil engineering and geological structures for applications to seismic risk assessment. He collected a large amount of field data for this purpose. He also has experience of post-earthquake surveys and participated in the creation of training courses for vulnerability and damage analysis after an earthquake, particularly for macroseismic studies, in France and Switzerland. He also developed earthquake loss scenarios for the school buildings in the city of Basel using the Openquake software.

Between 2009 and 2013, he successfully completed Phase 1 of the Strong Motion Network renewal project and between 2013 and 2016 the Basel Risk mitigation project.
He is facilitating the site characterisation group and its database and further works on the Phase 2 of the SSMNet renewal project.

Date of birth: September 10th 1982

Nationality: French

Institution: Swiss Seismological Service - ETH Zurich

  • Strong motions and site effects
  • Probabilistic seismic risk assessment – loss estimation
  • Seismic vulnerability assessment of existing buildings
  • In situ vibration tests in civil engineering structures and modal analysis
Oct. 2007 PhD Earth, Universe and Environment in Université Joseph Fourier of Grenoble (UJF)
June 2004 Master’s Degree in Earth, Universe and Environment Sciences in Joseph Fourier University of Grenoble with honours
Sept. 2004 Diplôme d’Ingénieur Civil des Mines (Ecole des Mines de Nancy) with major in Geosciences Engineering
June 1999 Baccalauréat Scientifique with major in Maths, age 16, first class honours

Dec. 2009

Senior researcher (Oberassistent) at the Swiss Seismological Service (SED) at ETH Zürich in the group Engineering Seismology (Prof. D. Fäh).

Main projects: Erdbebenvorsorge im Kanton Basel-Stadt (2013-2015); Erneuerung des Starkbebennetzes Phase 1 (2009-2013).

Other projects: expert for the project “Seismic risk of existing buildings” (Bundesamt für Umwelt); “Swiss Hazard 2015” (SED)

Duty seismologist since 2011

Mar. 2008 -
Nov. 2009

Scientist (post-doc) at the Applied Computing and Mechanics Laboratory (IMAC) of ETH Lausanne (EPFL) in the group of Earthquake Engineering (Dr. P. Lestuzzi)

Project: Wirklichkeitsnahe Erdbebenverletzbarkeits- und Verschiebungsfunktionen von Mauerwerksgebäuden in der Schweiz (Präventionsstiftung der Kantonalen Gebäudeversicherungen)

Oct. 2007 -
Feb. 2008

Post-doc at LGIT Grenoble on the ARVISE project: Assessment and Reduction of the Seismic Vulnerability of Existing Buildings
2004 / 2007

PhD at the Institute of Geophysics (LGIT now ISTerre) Grenoble: Seismic vulnerability analysis using in situ experimental techniques : from the building to the city scale – Application to Grenoble (France).

Supervisor: Philippe Guéguen and Pierre-Yves Bard. Jury: A. Plumier (Professor, Univ. Liège), P. Argoul (Researcher LCPC Paris), M. Campillo (Professor, UJF Grenoble), C. Ventura (Professor, UBC Vancouver CA), P. Labbé (EDF-SEPTEN Lyon), J. Clinton (ETH Zurich), P. Guéguen and P.-Y. Bard.


Master project at the Institute of Geophysics (LGIT now ISTerre) Grenoble: Seismic vulnerability analysis at a large scale: application to Grenoble. Supervised by P. Guéguen.


Project Ecole des Mines de Nancy

Numerical modelling of the Umm Amr monastery (Gaza strip, Palestine). Supervised by T. Verdel (LAEGO Nancy) and R. Elter (archeologist). 3 months including 2 weeks on the field (Jerusalem and Gaza).

2014 - 2015 Elena Florinela Manea, Visiting PhD student (18 months) NIEP Bucharest (Romania)
2012 Yoon Jung Choi, Master Student Earth Sciences ETH Zurich
2009 - 2012 James-Alexandre Goulet, PhD student IMAC-EPFL
2009 - 2011 Marcelo Oropeza, PhD student IMAC-EPFL
2009 Marlen Bigler, Master Student EPFL
Sept. 2009 Post-earthquake survey L’Aquila earthquake (SGEB-DEZA)
Nov. 2007 Macroseismic Survey Martinique earthquake (BCSF)
2002 Industrial placement (6 weeks) at ALSTOM Power in Mannheim (Germany)

Computer skills

  • Programming: Matlab, Python, Unix shell
  • Databases: SQL, PostGreSQL

Geographical Information System

  • Modelling: Finite Elements, Finite Differences
  • Risk modelling: Openquake

Other skills

  • Project Management: ETH training courses and 6 years experience
  • Crisis Management: Training courses SED and Bundesamt für Umwelt
  • Data acquisition: Organisation of more than 100 seismological field campaigns
  • French: Mother tongue
  • English: Level C1 (working language since 2008)
  • German: Level C1 (working language since 2010)


  • Initiateur Fédéral d’Alpinisme (2007)
  • Open Water Diver (2009)


  • Member of Swiss and French Associations for Earthquake Engineering (SGEB and AFPS)
  • Member of the Seismological Society of America (SSA)
  • Member of the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC)


  • Outdoor (climbing, alpinism, ski touring)
  • tennis
  • diving


Since 2011 Lecturer University of Strasbourg; Co-founder of the training of the French Macroseismic Field Team (BCSF); 5 sessions: 38h
Since 2010

Fieldcourse in Engineering seismology ETH Zurich: 20h

Training courses ETH Zurich and SGEB (post-earthquake assessment): 6h

2009 Co-founder “Advanced Earthquake Engineering” Doctoral School Structures EPF Lausanne: 28h
2008 / 2009 Earthquake Engineering, Structural Mechanics, replacement P. Lestuzzi: 8h
2004 - 2007 Physics, Geophysics, Geology, Practical work (UJF Grenoble): 120h