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Strong-motion instrumentation and recording in Europe and in the Middle East started much later than in United States and Japan, and developed slowly, chiefly with analogue instruments. With the advent of digital recorders in recent years, this development has increased rapidly, particularly because of the need to instrument major engineering works and public buildings and to comply with the requirements of hazard assessment and earthquake resistant design stipulated in Eurocode-8. The present state of strong-motion recording capabilities in Europe shows, that although the total number of all stations is difficult to estimate, the number of ground response instruments is higher than 3,000. The number of individual ground response records made by European earthquakes of all magnitudes during the last 30 years exceeds a conservative estimate of 5,000. The number of freely available records does not include data from the former USSR and a few other European countries, or from the European nuclear and oil industries (Smit, 1999).

The European strong-motion networks and individual stations have often been established and are maintained mostly with recurrent government subsidies or short-term grants. They operate as independent state, industrial or university units with little or no co-ordination between them. Some of these networks are very well run but because of the closed system within they operate, even within the same country, few co-operative research programmes or data exchange policies have developed and only a fraction of their output reaches end-users, engineers and scientists alike. Full use of larger body of data remains un-exploited so far due to problems of access and, as a result, relatively little research is generated. Theoretical methods for the prediction of ground motions have become highly developed, whilst knowledge of the observational material, the strong-motion records that can provide the acid test to these theories is restricted.

Of course, this is not a problem unique to Europe and steps have already been taken by a number of European networks and agencies to release their strong-motion data on CD-ROMs or on the Internet.

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