Seismograms of local earthquakes recorded in Seattle exhibit surface waves in the Seattle basin and basin-edge focusing of S waves. Spectral ratios of Swaves and later arrivals at 1 Hz for stiff-soil sites in the Seattle basin show a dependence on the direction to the earthquake, with earthquakes to the south and southwest producing higher average amplification. Earthquakes to the southwest typically produce larger basin surface waves relative to S waves than earthquakes to the north and northwest, probably because of the velocity contrast across the Seattle fault along the southern margin of the Seattle basin. S to P conversions are observed for some events and are likely converted at the bottom of the Seattle basin. We model five earthquakes, including the M 6.8 Nisqually earthquake, using 3D finite-difference simulations accurate up to 1 Hz. The simulations reproduce the observed dependence of amplification on the direction to the earthquake. The simulations generally match the timing and character of basin surface waves observed for many events. The 3D simulation for the Nisqually earth-quake produces focusing of S waves along the southern margin of the Seattle basin near the area in west Seattle that experienced increased chimney damage from the earthquake, similar to the results of the higher-frequency 2D simulation reported by Stephenson et al. (2006). Waveforms from the 3D simulations show reasonable agreement with the data at low frequencies (0.2-0.4 Hz) for the Nisqually earthquake and an M 4.8 deep earthquake west of Seattle.
Additional publication details
Sedimentary basin effects in Seattle, Washington: Ground-motion observations and 3D simulations