The city of Memphis, which is situated very close to the inferred epicenter of one of the three major 1811 to 1812 earthquakes, is in a potentially hazardous zone which will be susceptible to the usual seismic hazards. By recognizing the high level of seismicity in the New Madrid area, this study attempts to microzone the potential hazards by considering the following subjects: (i) the seismicity of the central United States; (ii) design earthquakes; and (iii) response analysis which allows construction of the necessary microzonation maps.

The seismicity of the region is evaluated from state-of-the-art literature as there is no recorded strong-motion data available for the central United States. Synthetically generated accelerograms, simulating the design earthquakes, were used to represent the ground motions which were applied at a depth of 45 m, below ground surface, at numerous sites in Memphis. The soil stratigraphy was conceptualized from borehole data, made available by local sources, and dynamic soil properties estimated from available empirical correlations.

The results of the response analysis were transformed into microzonation maps depicting: (i) zones showing qualitative estimates of ground response; (ii) zones showing the natural frequency of the soils; (iii) zones showing the peak spectral acceleration for 2 per cent damping ratio; and (iv) zones of liquefaction potential.

These maps are useful for preliminary design and are not intended to be used on a quantitative basis. Further investigation is necessary in determining the stratigraphy and soil properties for a site-specific design and analysis.

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