Seismic‐hazard forecast for 2016 including induced and natural earthquakes in the central and eastern United States

Seismological Research Letters
By: , and 



The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has produced a one‐year (2016) probabilistic seismic‐hazard assessment for the central and eastern United States (CEUS) that includes contributions from both induced and natural earthquakes that are constructed with probabilistic methods using alternative data and inputs. This hazard assessment builds on our 2016 final model (Petersen et al., 2016) by adding sensitivity studies, illustrating hazard in new ways, incorporating new population data, and discussing potential improvements. The model considers short‐term seismic activity rates (primarily 2014–2015) and assumes that the activity rates will remain stationary over short time intervals. The final model considers different ways of categorizing induced and natural earthquakes by incorporating two equally weighted earthquake rate submodels that are composed of alternative earthquake inputs for catalog duration, smoothing parameters, maximum magnitudes, and ground‐motion models. These alternatives represent uncertainties on how we calculate earthquake occurrence and the diversity of opinion within the science community. In this article, we also test sensitivity to the minimum moment magnitude between M 4 and M 4.7 and the choice of applying a declustered catalog with b=1.0 rather than the full catalog with b=1.3. We incorporate two earthquake rate submodels: in the informed submodel we classify earthquakes as induced or natural, and in the adaptive submodel we do not differentiate. The alternative submodel hazard maps both depict high hazard and these are combined in the final model. Results depict several ground‐shaking measures as well as intensity and include maps showing a high‐hazard level (1% probability of exceedance in 1 year or greater). Ground motions reach 0.6g horizontal peak ground acceleration (PGA) in north‐central Oklahoma and southern Kansas, and about 0.2g PGA in the Raton basin of Colorado and New Mexico, in central Arkansas, and in north‐central Texas near Dallas–Fort Worth. The chance of having levels of ground motions corresponding to modified Mercalli intensity (MMI) VI or greater earthquake shaking is 2%–12% per year in north‐central Oklahoma and southern Kansas and New Madrid similar to the chance of damage at sites in high‐hazard portions of California caused by natural earthquakes. Hazard is also significant in the Raton basin of Colorado/New Mexico; north‐central Arkansas; Dallas–Fort Worth, Texas; and in a few other areas. Hazard probabilities are much lower (by about half or more) for exceeding MMI VII or VIII. Hazard is 3‐ to 10‐fold higher near some areas of active‐induced earthquakes than in the 2014 USGS National Seismic Hazard Model (NSHM), which did not consider induced earthquakes. This study in conjunction with the LandScan TM Database (2013) indicates that about 8 million people live in areas of active injection wells that have a greater than 1% chance of experiencing damaging ground shaking (MMI≥VI) in 2016. The final model has high uncertainty, and engineers, regulators, and industry should use these assessments cautiously to make informed decisions on mitigating the potential effects of induced and natural earthquakes.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Seismic‐hazard forecast for 2016 including induced and natural earthquakes in the central and eastern United States
Series title Seismological Research Letters
DOI 10.1785/0220160072
Volume 87
Issue 6
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Seismological Society of America
Contributing office(s) Geologic Hazards Science Center
Description 15 p.
First page 1327
Last page 1341
Country United States
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details