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Shaking is almost always a surprise; the earthquakes that produce significant ground motion

Sarah E. Minson, Annemarie S. Baltay, Elizabeth S. Cochran, Sara K. McBride and Kevin R. Milner
Shaking is almost always a surprise; the earthquakes that produce significant ground motion
Seismological Research Letters (November 2020) 92 (1): 460-468

Abstract

Although small earthquakes are expected to produce weak shaking, ground motion is highly variable and there are outlier earthquakes that generate more shaking than expected-sometimes significantly more. We explore datasets of M 0.5-8.3 earthquakes to determine the relative impact of frequent, smaller-magnitude earthquakes that rarely produce strong ground motion, to rare, large earthquakes that always cause strong shaking. We find that the natural variability of ground motion, combined with the Gutenberg-Richter magnitude-frequency relationship, ensures that most occurrences of any ground motion come from earthquakes of smaller magnitude than expected, often >2 magnitude units smaller. This holds even for very strong shaking (>20%g), suggesting that M<7 earthquakes could be a significant source of damage.


ISSN: 0895-0695
EISSN: 1938-2057
Serial Title: Seismological Research Letters
Serial Volume: 92
Serial Issue: 1
Title: Shaking is almost always a surprise; the earthquakes that produce significant ground motion
Affiliation: U. S. Geological Survey, Earthquake Science Center, Moffett Field, CA, United States
Pages: 460-468
Published: 20201104
Text Language: English
Publisher: Seismological Society of America, El Cerrito, CA, United States
References: 40
Accession Number: 2021-006744
Categories: Seismology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus.
Secondary Affiliation: University of Southern California, USA, United States
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2022, American Geosciences Institute. Abstract, Copyright, Seismological Society of America. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States
Update Code: 202105
Program Name: USGSOPNon-USGS publications with USGS authors
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