Earthquake Hazard and Risk in Alaska

Monday, 15 December 2014
Natanya Black Porto and Marleen Nyst, Risk Management Solutions, Inc., Newark, CA, United States
Alaska is one of the most seismically active and tectonically diverse regions in the United States. To examine risk, we have updated the seismic hazard model in Alaska. The current RMS Alaska hazard model is based on the 2007 probabilistic seismic hazard maps for Alaska (Wesson et al., 2007; Boyd et al., 2007). The 2015 RMS model will update several key source parameters, including: extending the earthquake catalog, implementing a new set of crustal faults, updating the subduction zone geometry and reoccurrence rate. First, we extend the earthquake catalog to 2013; decluster the catalog, and compute new background rates. We then create a crustal fault model, based on the Alaska 2012 fault and fold database. This new model increased the number of crustal faults from ten in 2007, to 91 faults in the 2015 model. This includes the addition of: the western Denali, Cook Inlet folds near Anchorage, and thrust faults near Fairbanks. Previously the subduction zone was modeled at a uniform depth. In this update, we model the intraslab as a series of deep stepping events. We also use the best available data, such as Slab 1.0, to update the geometry of the subduction zone.

The city of Anchorage represents 80% of the risk exposure in Alaska. In the 2007 model, the hazard in Alaska was dominated by the frequent rate of magnitude 7 to 8 events (Gutenberg-Richter distribution), and large magnitude 8+ events had a low reoccurrence rate (Characteristic) and therefore didn’t contribute as highly to the overall risk. We will review these reoccurrence rates, and will present the results and impact to Anchorage. We will compare our hazard update to the 2007 USGS hazard map, and discuss the changes and drivers for these changes.

Finally, we will examine the impact model changes have on Alaska earthquake risk. Consider risk metrics include average annual loss, an annualized expected loss level used by insurers to determine the costs of earthquake insurance (and premium levels), and the loss exceedance probability curve used by insurers to address their solvency and manage their portfolio risk. We analyze risk profile changes in areas with large population density and for structures of economic and financial importance: the Trans-Alaska pipeline, industrial facilities in Valdez, and typical residential wood buildings in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau.