Abstract

We compute ground motions for the Beroza (1991) and Wald et al. (1991) source models of the 1989 magnitude 6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake using four different wave-propagation codes and recently developed 3D geologic and seismic velocity models. In preparation for modeling the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, we use this well-recorded earthquake to characterize how well our ground-motion simulations reproduce the observed shaking intensities and amplitude and durations of recorded motions throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. All of the simulations generate ground motions consistent with the large-scale spatial variations in shaking associated with rupture directivity and the geologic structure. We attribute the small variations among the synthetics to the minimum shear-wave speed permitted in the simulations and how they accommodate topography. Our long-period simulations, on average, under predict shaking intensities by about one-half modified Mercalli intensity (MMI) units (25%–35% in peak velocity), while our broadband simulations, on average, under predict the shaking intensities by one-fourth MMI units (16% in peak velocity). Discrepancies with observations arise due to errors in the source models and geologic structure. The consistency in the synthetic waveforms across the wave-propagation codes for a given source model suggests the uncertainty in the source parameters tends to exceed the uncertainty in the seismic velocity structure. In agreement with earlier studies, we find that a source model with slip more evenly distributed northwest and southeast of the hypocenter would be preferable to both the Beroza and Wald source models. Although the new 3D seismic velocity model improves upon previous velocity models, we identify two areas needing improvement. Nevertheless, we find that the seismic velocity model and the wave-propagation codes are suitable for modeling the 1906 earthquake and scenario events in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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