A shallow bedrock fold imaged by a 1.3-km long high-resolution shear-wave seismic reflection profile in west Seattle focuses seismic waves arriving from the south. This focusing may cause a pocket of amplified ground shaking and the anomalous chimney damage observed in earthquakes of 1949, 1965 and 2001. The 200-m bedrock fold at ???300-m depth is caused by deformation across an inferred fault within the Seattle fault zone. Ground motion simulations, using the imaged geologic structure and northward-propagating north-dipping plane wave sources, predict a peak horizontal acceleration pattern that matches that observed in strong motion records of the 2001 Nisqually event. Additionally, a pocket of chimney damage reported for both the 1965 and the 2001 earthquakes generally coincides with a zone of simulated amplification caused by focusing. This study further demonstrates the significant impact shallow (<1km) crustal structures can have on earthquake ground-motion variability.
Additional publication details
Toward resolving an earthquake ground motion mystery in west Seattle, Washington State: Shallow seismic focusing may cause anomalous chimney damage