Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Basin amplification effects in the Puget Lowland, Washington from strong motion recordings and 3D simulations

February 11, 2020

Sedimentary basins in the Puget Sound region, Washington State, increase ground‐motion intensity and duration of shaking during local earthquakes. We analyze Pacific Northwest Seismic Network and U.S. Geological Survey strong‐motion recordings of five local earthquakes (M 3.9–6.8), including the 2001 Nisqually earthquake, to characterize sedimentary basin effects within the Seattle and Tacoma basins. We observe basin‐edge generated surface waves at sites within the Seattle basin for most ray paths that cross the Seattle fault zone. We also note previously undocumented basin‐edge surface waves in the Tacoma basin during one of the local earthquakes. To place quantitative constraints on basin amplification, we determine amplification factors by computing the spectral ratios of inside‐basin sites to outside‐basin sites at 1, 2, 3, and 5 s periods. Ground shaking is amplified in the Seattle basin for all the earthquakes analyzed and for a subset of events in the Tacoma basin. We find that the largest amplification factors in the Seattle basin are produced by a shallow earthquake located to the southwest of the basin. Our observation suggests that future shallow crustal and megathrust earthquakes rupturing west of the Puget Lowland will produce greater amplification within the Seattle basin than has been seen for intraslab events. We also perform ground‐motion simulations using a finite‐difference method to validate a 3D Cascadia velocity model (CVM) by comparing properties of observed and synthetic waveforms up to a frequency of 1 Hz. Basin‐edge effects are well reproduced in the Seattle basin, but are less well resolved in the Tacoma basin. Continued study of basin effects in the Tacoma basin would improve the CVM.

Publication Year 2020
Title Basin amplification effects in the Puget Lowland, Washington from strong motion recordings and 3D simulations
DOI 10.1785/0120190211
Authors Mika Thompson, Erin Wirth, Arthur Frankel, J. Renate Hartog, John E. Vidale
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America
Index ID 70216986
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Earthquake Science Center