Probabilistic Seismic-Hazard Assessment Including Site Effects for Evansville, Indiana, and the Surrounding Region


Evansville, Indiana, is one of the closest large urban areas to both the New Madrid Seismic Zone, where large earthquakes occurred in 1811–1812, and the Wabash Valley Seismic Zone, where there is evidence of several large prehistoric earthquakes in the last 14,000 yr. For this reason, Evansville has been targeted as a priority region for urban seismic-hazard assessment. The probabilistic seismic-hazard methodology used for the Evansville region incorporates new information from recent surficial geologic mapping efforts, as well as information on the depth and properties of near-surface soils and their associated uncertainties. The probabilistic seismic-hazard calculation applied here follows the method used for the 2008 United States Geological Survey (USGS) national seismic-hazard maps, with modifications to incorporate estimates of local site conditions and their uncertainties, in a completely probabilistic manner. The resulting analysis shows strong local variations of acceleration with 2% probability of exceedance in 50 yr, which are clearly correlated with variations in the thickness of unconsolidated soils above bedrock. Spectral accelerations at 0.2-s period range from 0.6 to 1.5g, values that are much greater than those of the USGS national seismic-hazard map, which assume B/C site conditions with an average shear-wave velocity of 760 m/s in the top 30 m. The presence of an ancient bedrock valley underlying the current Ohio River flood plain strongly affects the spatial pattern of accelerations. For 1.0-s spectral acceleration, ground motions are significantly amplified due to deeper soils within this structure, to a level comparable to that predicted by the national seismic-hazard maps with D site conditions assumed. For PGA and 0.2-s spectral acceleration, ground motions are significantly amplified outside this structure, above the levels predicted by the national seismic-hazard maps with uniform D site conditions assumed.

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