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USGS National Seismic Hazard Maps

January 1, 2000

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) recently completed new probabilistic seismic hazard maps for the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii. These hazard maps form the basis of the probabilistic component of the design maps used in the 1997 edition of the NEHRP Recommended Provisions for Seismic Regulations for New Buildings and Other Structures, prepared by the Building Seismic Safety Council and published by FEMA. The hazard maps depict peak horizontal ground acceleration and spectral response at 0.2, 0.3, and 1.0 sec periods, with 10%, 5%, and 2% probabilities of exceedance in 50 years, corresponding to return times of about 500, 1000, and 2500 years, respectively. In this paper we outline the methodology used to construct the hazard maps. There are three basic components to the maps. First, we use spatially smoothed historic seismicity as one portion of the hazard calculation. In this model, we apply the general observation that moderate and large earthquakes tend to occur near areas of previous small or moderate events, with some notable exceptions. Second, we consider large background source zones based on broad geologic criteria to quantify hazard in areas with little or no historic seismicity, but with the potential for generating large events. Third, we include the hazard from specific fault sources. We use about 450 faults in the western United States (WUS) and derive recurrence times from either geologic slip rates or the dating of pre-historic earthquakes from trenching of faults or other paleoseismic methods. Recurrence estimates for large earthquakes in New Madrid and Charleston, South Carolina, were taken from recent paleoliquefaction studies. We used logic trees to incorporate different seismicity models, fault recurrence models, Cascadia great earthquake scenarios, and ground-motion attenuation relations. We present disaggregation plots showing the contribution to hazard at four cities from potential earthquakes with various magnitudes and distances.

Publication Year 2000
Title USGS National Seismic Hazard Maps
DOI 10.1193/1.1586079
Authors A. D. Frankel, C.S. Mueller, T.P. Barnhard, E. V. Leyendecker, R. L. Wesson, S. C. Harmsen, F. W. Klein, D. M. Perkins, N.C. Dickman, S.L. Hanson, M. G. Hopper
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Earthquake Spectra
Index ID 70022856
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse