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Quantifying nuisance ground motion thresholds for induced earthquakes

January 25, 2021

Hazards from induced earthquakes are a growing concern with a need for effective management. One aspect of that concern is the “nuisance” from unexpected ground motions, which have the potential to cause public alarm and discontent. In this article, we borrow earthquake engineering concepts to quantify the chance of building damage states and adapt them to quantify felt thresholds for induced earthquakes in the Central and Eastern United States. We compare binary data of felt or not-felt reports from the “Did You Feel It” database with ShakeMap ground motion intensity measures (IM) for ∼360 earthquakes. We use a Monte Carlo logistic regression to discern the likelihood of perceiving various degrees of felt intensity, given a particular IM. These best-fit nuisance functions are reported in this article and are readily transferable. Of the shaking types considered, we find that peak ground velocity tends to be the best predictor of a felt earthquake. We also find that felt thresholds tended to decrease with increasing earthquake magnitude, after M ∼3.9. We interpret this effect as related to the duration of the event, where events smaller than M 3.9 are perceived as “impulsive” to the human senses. Improved quantification of the nuisance from induced earthquake ground motions could be utilized in management of the public perception of their causal operations. Although aimed at anthropogenic earthquakes, thresholds we derive could be useful in other realms, such as establishing best practices and protocols for earthquake early warning.

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