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On the Effects of Non-planar Geometry for Blind Thrust Faults on Strong Ground Motion

Hideo Aochi, & Kim B. Olsen

Published 2004, SCEC Contribution #721

We quantify the effects of complex fault geometry on low-frequency (<1 Hz) strong ground motion using numerical modeling of dynamic rupture. Our tests include the computation of synthetic seismograms for several simple rupture scenarios with planar and curved fault approximations of the 1994 Northridge earthquake. We use the boundary integral equation method (BIEM) to compute the dynamic rupture process, which includes the normal stress effects along the curved fault geometries. The wave propagation and computation of synthetic seismograms are modeled using a fourth-order finite-difference method (FDM). The near-field ground motion is significantly affected by the acceleration, deceleration and arrest of rupture due to the curvature of the faults, as well as the variation in directivity of the rupture. For example, a 6-km-long hanging-wall or footwall splay with a maximum offset of 1 km can change 1-Hz peak velocities by up to a factor of 2-3 near the fault. Our tests suggest that the differences in waveform are larger on the hanging wall compared to those on the footwall, although the differences in amplitude are larger in the forward rupture direction (footwall). The results imply that kinematic ground motion estimates may be biased by the omission of dynamic rupture effects and even relatively gentle variation in fault geometry, and even for long-period waves.

Aochi, H., & Olsen, K. B. (2004). On the Effects of Non-planar Geometry for Blind Thrust Faults on Strong Ground Motion. Pure and Applied Geophysics, 161(11-12), 2139-2153. doi: 10.1007/s00024-004-2554-x.