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Open-File Report 2013–1289

Three-Dimensional Ground-Motion Simulations of Earthquakes for the Hanford Area, Washington

By Arthur Frankel, Paul Thorne, and Alan Rohay


This report describes the results of ground-motion simulations of earthquakes using three-dimensional (3D) and one-dimensional (1D) crustal models conducted for the probabilistic seismic hazard assessment (PSHA) of the Hanford facility, Washington, under the Senior Seismic Hazard Analysis Committee (SSHAC) guidelines. The first portion of this report demonstrates that the 3D seismic velocity model for the area produces synthetic seismograms with characteristics (spectral response values, duration) that better match those of the observed recordings of local earthquakes, compared to a 1D model with horizontal layers. The second part of the report compares the response spectra of synthetics from 3D and 1D models for moment magnitude (M) 6.6–6.8 earthquakes on three nearby faults and for a dipping plane wave source meant to approximate regional S-waves from a Cascadia great earthquake. The 1D models are specific to each site used for the PSHA. The use of the 3D model produces spectral response accelerations at periods of 0.5–2.0 seconds as much as a factor of 4.5 greater than those from the 1D models for the crustal fault sources. The spectral accelerations of the 3D synthetics for the Cascadia plane-wave source are as much as a factor of 9 greater than those from the 1D models. The differences between the spectral accelerations for the 3D and 1D models are most pronounced for sites with thicker supra-basalt sediments and for stations with earthquakes on the Rattlesnake Hills fault and for the Cascadia plane-wave source.

First posted January 10, 2014

For additional information, contact:
Earthquake Science Center
Seattle, Washington Field Office
U.S. Geological Survey
Dept. Earth & Space Sciences
University of Washington
Box 351310
Seattle, WA 98195-1310

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Suggested citation:

Frankel, Arthur, Thorne, Paul, and Rohay, Alan, 2014, Three-dimensional ground-motion simulations of earthquakes for the Hanford area, Washington: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2013-1289, 48 p.,

ISSN 2331-1258 (online)



Three-Dimensional Velocity Models

Finite-Difference Program and Grid Spacing

Seismic Stations

Comparison of Synthetics with Data

Simulations for Magnitude 6.5–6.8 Earthquakes

One-Dimensional Models and Reflectivity Method



References Cited

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