Impact of a larger fore-arc region on earthquake ground motions in south-central Alaska including the 2018 M 7.1 Anchorage Inslab earthquake


The thermal state of the crust and mantle in subduction zones is controlled by the depth of the subducting plate. With low-angle subduction, like at the eastern end of the Alaska subduction zone, the less attenuating fore-arc is extended farther from the trench and can effect ground motions in addition to source and site effects. Recent crustal and subduction earthquakes in south-central Alaska, including the 2018 M 7.1 Anchorage event, demonstrate these effects. Inslab earthquake waves in the subducting plate can propagate up the slab to the fore-arc region with less attenuation, causing an increase in observed ground motions. Long-period ground motions from the 2018 M 7.1 Anchorage earthquake are significantly higher than predicted ground motions from current subduction ground-motion models within 50–100 km of the epicenter. At short periods, ground motions show reduced amplitudes due to nonlinear sediment effects in the Anchorage area, reducing the damage potential of the earthquake. At long periods, ground motions are little affected by sediment nonlinearity and remain higher than expected. The duration of shaking was too short for widespread liquefaction effects, unlike during the 1964 M 9.2 earthquake. Other historical earthquakes have produced similar increases in ground motions in the Cook Inlet and Kenai Peninsula region. At both short and long periods, ground motions from the 2016 Iniskin M 7.1 inslab earthquake are higher than expected in the Cook Inlet region. The 2015 Redoubt M 6.3 inslab earthquake also shows increased ground motions in the Cook Inlet region at all periods. Crustal Q estimates from Lg waves show less attenuation in south-central Alaska at longer periods. In the larger south-central Alaska region crustal Q(f)=336f0:34 compared to Q(f)=217f0:84 for all of Alaska with most of the decrease in attenuation at frequencies below 2 Hz.

Publication Title

Seismological Research Letters