A new paper from Dr. Kim Bak Olsen, Dr. Steven Day, and others that shows nonlinear effects can significantly reduce the expected long-period ground motions for a large earthquake on the southern San Andreas Fault.

Expected seismic shaking in Los Angeles reduced by San Andreas fault zone plasticity

D. Roten1, K. B. Olsen2, S. M. Day2, Y. Cui3 andD. Fäh1

1 Swiss Seismological Service, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
2 Department of Geological Sciences, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA, USA
San Diego Supercomputer Center, La Jolla, California, USA


Computer simulations of large (M ≥ 7.8) earthquakes rupturing the southern San Andreas fault from SE to NW (e.g., ShakeOut, widely used for earthquake drills) have predicted strong long-period ground motions in the densely populated Los Angeles basin due to channeling of waves through a series of interconnected sedimentary basins. Recently, the importance of this waveguide amplification effect for seismic shaking in the Los Angeles basin has also been confirmed from observations of the ambient seismic field in the SAVELA experiment. By simulating the ShakeOut earthquake scenario (based on a kinematic source description) for a medium governed by Drucker-Prager plasticity, we show that nonlinear material behavior could reduce the earlier predictions of large long-period ground motions in the Los Angeles basin by up to 70% as compared to viscoelastic solutions. These reductions are primarily due to yielding near the fault, although yielding may also occur in the shallow low-velocity deposits of the Los Angeles basin if cohesions are close to zero. Fault zone plasticity remains important even for conservative values of cohesions, suggesting that current simulations assuming a linear response of rocks are overpredicting ground motions during future large earthquakes on the southern San Andreas fault.

BSSAD. Roten, K. B. Olsen, S. M. Day, Y. Cui andD. Fäh, Expected seismic shaking in Los Angeles reduced by San Andreas fault zone plasticity, Geophysical Research Letters, DOI: 10.1002/2014GL059411