Simulations of seismic hazard for the Pacific Northwest of the United States from earthquakes associated with the Cascadia subduction zone


We investigate the impact of different rupture and attenuation models for the Cascadia subduction zone by simulating seismic hazard models for the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. at 2% probability of exceedance in 50 years. We calculate the sensitivity of hazard (probabilistic ground motions) to the source parameters and the attenuation relations for both intraslab and interface earthquakes and present these in the framework of the standard USGS hazard model that includes crustal earthquakes. Our results indicate that allowing the deep intraslab earthquakes to occur anywhere along the subduction zone increases the peak ground acceleration hazard near Portland, Oregon by about 20%. Alternative attenuation relations for deep earthquakes can result in ground motions that differ by a factor of two. The hazard uncertainty for the plate interface and intraslab earthquakes is analyzed through a Monte-Carlo logic tree approach and indicates a seismic hazard exceeding 1 g (0.2 s spectral acceleration) consistent with the U.S. National Seismic Hazard Maps in western Washington, Oregon, and California and an overall coefficient of variation that ranges from 0.1 to 0.4. Sensitivity studies indicate that the paleoseismic chronology and the magnitude of great plate interface earthquakes contribute significantly to the hazard uncertainty estimates for this region. Paleoseismic data indicate that the mean earthquake recurrence interval for great earthquakes is about 500 years and that it has been 300 years since the last great earthquake. We calculate the probability of such a great earthquake along the Cascadia plate interface to be about 14% when considering a time-dependent model and about 10% when considering a time-independent Poisson model during the next 50-year interval.

Publication Title

Pure and Applied Geophysics