In the evolution of methods for calculating synthetic time histories of ground motion for postulated earthquakes, kinematic source models have dominated to date because of their ease of application. Dynamic models, however, which incorporate a physical relationship between important faulting parameters of stress drop, slip, rupture velocity, and rise time, are becoming more accessible. This article compares a class of kinematic models based on the summation of a fractal distribution of subevent sizes with a dynamic model based on the slip-weakening friction law. Kinematic modeling is done for the frequency band 0.2 to 10.0. Hz, dynamic models are calculated from 0.2 to 2.0. Hz. The strong motion data set for the 1994 Northridge earthquake is used to evaluate and compare the synthetic time histories. Source models are propagated to the far field by convolution with 1D and 3D theoretical Green’s functions. In addition, the kinematic model is used to evaluate the importance of propagation path effects: velocity structure, scattering, and nonlinearity. At present, the kinematic model gives a better broadband fit to the Northridge ground motion than the simple slip-weakening dynamic model. In general, the dynamic model overpredicts rise times and produces insufficient shorter-period energy. Within the context of the slip-weakening model, the Northridge ground motion requires a short slip-weakening distance, on the order of 0.15 m or less. A more complex dynamic model including rate weakening or one that allows shorter rise times near the hypocenter may fit the data better.

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