Probabilistic Seismic Hazard Estimates Incorporating Site Effects–An Example from Indiana, USA


The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has published probabilistic earthquake hazard maps for the United States based on current knowledge of past earthquake activity and geological constraints on earthquake potential. These maps for the central and eastern United States assume standard site conditions with S-wave velocities of 760 m/s in the top 30 m. For urban and infrastructure planning and long-term budgeting, the public is interested in similar probabilistic seismic hazard maps that take into account near-surface geological materials. We have implemented a probabilistic method for incorporating site effects into the USGS seismic hazard analysis that takes into account the first-order effects of the surface geologic conditions. The thicknesses of sediments, which play a large role in amplification, were derived from a P-wave refraction database with over 13,000 profiles, and a preliminary geology-based velocity model was constructed from available information on S-wave velocities. An interesting feature of the preliminary hazard maps incorporating site effects is the approximate factor of two increases in the 1-Hz spectral acceleration with 2 percent probability of exceedance in 50 years for parts of the greater Indianapolis metropolitan region and surrounding parts of central Indiana. This effect is primarily due to the relatively thick sequence of sediments infilling ancient bedrock topography that has been deposited since the Pleistocene Epoch. As expected, the Late Pleistocene and Holocene depositional systems of the Wabash and Ohio Rivers produce additional amplification in the southwestern part of Indiana. Ground motions decrease, as would be expected, toward the bedrock units in south-central Indiana, where motions are significantly lower than the values on the USGS maps.


seismic hazard, site effects

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