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The 2018 update of the US National Seismic Hazard Model: Where, why, and how much probabilistic ground motion maps changed

January 28, 2021

The 2018 US Geological Survey National Seismic Hazard Model (NSHM) incorporates new data and updated science to improve the underlying earthquake and ground motion forecasts for the conterminous United States. The NSHM considers many new data and component input models: (1) new earthquakes between 2013 and 2017 and updated earthquake magnitudes for some earlier earthquakes; (2) two updated smoothed seismicity models to forecast earthquake rates; (3) two suites of new central and eastern US (CEUS) ground motion models (GMMs) to translate ground shaking for various earthquake sizes and source-to-site distances considered in the model; (4) two CEUS GMMs for aleatory variability; (5) two CEUS site-effect models that modify ground shaking based on alternative shallow site conditions; (6) more advanced western US (WUS) lithologic and structural information to assess basin site effects for selected urban regions; and (7) a more comprehensive range of outputs (22 periods and 8 site classes) than in previous versions of the NSHMs. Each of these new datasets and models produces changes in the probabilistic ground shaking levels that are spatially and statistically analyzed. Recent earthquakes or changes to some older earthquake magnitudes and locations mostly result in probabilistic ground shaking levels that are similar to previous models, but local changes can reach up to +80% and −60% compared to the 2014 model. Newly developed CEUS models for GMMs, aleatory variability, and site effects cause overall changes up to ±64%. The addition of the WUS basin amplifications causes changes of up to +60% at longer periods for sites overlying deep soft soils. Across the conterminous United States, the hazard changes in the model are mainly caused by new GMMs in the CEUS, by sedimentary basin effects for long periods (≥1 s) in the WUS, and by seismicity changes for short (0.2 s) and long (1 s) periods for both areas.