The liquefaction record of past earthquakes in the Central Virginia Seismic Zone, Eastern United States

Seismological Research Letters
By: , and 



Following the 2011 moment magnitude, MM 5.7 Mineral, Virginia, earthquake, we conducted a search for paleoliquefaction features and found 41 sand dikes, sand sills, and soft‐sediment deformation features at 24 sites exposed in cutbanks along several rivers: (1) the South Anna River, where paleoliquefaction features were found in the epicentral area of the Mineral earthquake and farther downstream to the southeast; (2) the Mattaponi and Pamunkey Rivers east of the Fall Line, where liquefiable sediments are more common than in the epicentral area; and (3) the James River and Rivanna River–Stigger Creek, where a few sand dikes were found in the 1990s. Liquefaction features are grouped into two age categories based on dating of host sediment in which they occur and weathering characteristics of the features. A younger generation of features that formed during the past 350 yr are small, few in number, and appear to be limited to the James and Pamunkey Rivers. Though there are large uncertainties in their locations and magnitudes, one or more preinstrumental earthquakes, including the 1758, 1774, and 1875 events, likely caused these features. An older generation of liquefaction features that formed between 350 and 2800 yr ago are larger, more numerous, and more broadly distributed than the younger generation of features. Several earthquakes could account for the regional distribution of paleoliquefaction features, including one event of MM 6.25–6.5 near Holly Grove, or two events of MM 6.0 near Mineral and MM 6.25 near Ashland. Amplification of ground motions in Coastal Plain sediment might have contributed to liquefaction along the Mattaponi and Pamunkey Rivers.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title The liquefaction record of past earthquakes in the Central Virginia Seismic Zone, Eastern United States
Series title Seismological Research Letters
DOI 10.1785/0220200456
Volume 92
Issue 5
Year Published 2021
Language English
Publisher Seismological Society of America
Contributing office(s) Florence Bascom Geoscience Center
Description 19 p.
First page 3126
Last page 3144
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