Abstract

We explore the effectiveness and limitations of electrical and electromagnetic methods in imaging buried, earthquake-induced liquefaction deposits. Geophysical surveys conducted at liquefaction sites in the New Madrid seismic zone (NMSZ) in the central United States demonstrate that these subsurface-imaging techniques can be useful tools in paleoseismology. Paleoseismological studies of liquefaction features provide one of the few means for estimating recurrence intervals of large earthquakes in the NMSZ, a region with widespread evidence of strong ground shaking but short instrumental record. Noninvasive geophysical methods minimize ground disturbance during these studies, an attribute of particular importance when the studies are conducted at federally protected archaeological sites. Surveys such as those described here can be used to locate buried liquefaction deposits and to site trenches for detailed geologic studies.

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