Ground Motions Due to Earthquakes on Creeping Faults

Friday, 19 December 2014
Ruth Harris, U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, CA, United States; Earthquake Hazards Program Menlo Park, Menlo Park, CA, United States and Norman A Abrahamson, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, San Francisco, CA, United States
We investigate the peak ground motions from the largest well-recorded earthquakes on creeping strike-slip faults in active-tectonic continental regions. Our goal is to evaluate if the strong ground motions from earthquakes on creeping faults are smaller than the strong ground motions from earthquakes on locked faults. Smaller ground motions might be expected from earthquakes on creeping faults if the fault sections that strongly radiate energy are surrounded by patches of fault that predominantly absorb energy. For our study we used the ground motion data available in the PEER NGA-West2 database, and the ground motion prediction equations that were developed from the PEER NGA-West2 dataset. We analyzed data for the eleven largest well-recorded creeping-fault earthquakes, that ranged in magnitude from M5.0-6.5. Our findings are that these earthquakes produced peak ground motions that are statistically indistinguishable from the peak ground motions produced by similar-magnitude earthquakes on locked faults. These findings may be implemented in earthquake hazard estimates for moderate-size earthquakes in creeping-fault regions. Further investigation is necessary to determine if this result will also apply to larger earthquakes on creeping faults.

Please also see: Harris, R.A., and N.A. Abrahamson (2014), Strong ground motions generated by earthquakes on creeping faults, Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 41, doi:10.1002/2014GL060228.