Analysis of strong-motion instrument recordings in Seattle, Washington, resulting from the 2002 Mw 7.9 Denali, Alaska, earthquake reveals that amplification in the 0.2- to 1.0-Hz frequency band is largely governed by the shallow sediments both inside and outside the sedimentary basins beneath the Puget Lowland. Sites above the deep sedimentary strata show additional seismic-wave amplification in the 0.04- to 0.2-Hz frequency range. Surface waves generated by the Mw 7.9 Denali, Alaska, earthquake of 3 November 2002 produced pronounced water waves across Washington state. The largest water waves coincided with the area of largest seismic-wave amplification underlain by the Seattle basin. In the current work, we present reports that show Lakes Union and Washington, both located on the Seattle basin, are susceptible to large water waves generated by large local earthquakes and teleseisms. A simple model of a water body is adopted to explain the generation of waves in water basins. This model provides reasonable estimates for the water-wave amplitudes in swimming pools during the Denali earthquake but appears to underestimate the waves observed in Lake Union.

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