The Controls on Earthquake Ground Motion in Foreland-Basin Settings: The Effects of Basin and Source Geometry

Aisling O'Kane, & Alex Copley

Published December 18, 2020, SCEC Contribution #11696

Rapid urban growth has led to large population densities in foreland basin regions, and therefore a rapid increase in the number of people exposed to hazard from earthquakes in the adjacent mountain ranges. It is well known that earthquake-induced ground shaking is amplified in sedimentary basins. However, questions remain regarding the main controls on this effect. It is, therefore, crucial to identify the main controls on earthquake shaking in foreland basins as a step towards mitigating the earthquake risk posed to these regions. We model seismic-wave propagation from range-front thrust-faulting earthquakes in a foreland-basin setting. The basin geometry (depth and width) and source characteristics (fault dip and source-to-basin distance) were varied, and the resultant ground motion was calculated. We find that the source depth determines the amount of near-source ground shaking and the basin structure controls the propagation of this energy into the foreland basin. Of particular importance is the relative length scales of the basin depth and dominant seismic wavelength (controlled by the source characteristics), as this controls the amount of dispersion of surface-wave energy, and so the amplitude and duration of ground motion. The maximum ground motions occur when the basin depth matches the dominant wavelength set by the source. Basins that are shallow compared with the dominant wavelength result in low-amplitude and long-duration dispersed waveforms. However, the basin structure has a smaller effect on the ground shaking than the source depth and geometry, highlighting the need for understanding the depth distribution and dip angles of earthquakes when assessing earthquake hazard in foreland-basin settings.

Key Words
Earthquake Ground Motions, Earthquake Hazards, Seismicity and Tectonics, Wave Propagation, Continental Tectonics: Compressional

O'Kane, A., & Copley, A. (2020). The Controls on Earthquake Ground Motion in Foreland-Basin Settings: The Effects of Basin and Source Geometry. Geophysical Journal International, 225(1), 512-529. doi: