Relaxing segmentation on the Wasatch Fault Zone: Impact on seismic hazard

Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America
By: , and 



The multisegment Wasatch fault zone is a well-studied normal fault in the western United States that has paleoseismic evidence of recurrent Holocene surface-faulting earthquakes. Along the 270-km-long central part of the fault, four primary structural complexities provide possible along-strike limits to these ruptures and form the basis for models of fault segmentation. Here, we assess the impact that the Wasatch fault segmentation model has on seismic hazard by evaluating the time-independent long-term rate of ruptures on the fault that satisfy fault slip rates and paleoseismic event rates, adapting standard inverse theory used in the Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast 3 (UCERF3), and implementing a segmentation constraint where ruptures across primary structural complexities are penalized. We define three models with varying degrees of rupture penalization: (1) segmented (ruptures confined to individual segments), (2) penalized (multi-segment ruptures allowed, but penalized), and (3) unsegmented (all ruptures allowed). Seismic-hazard results show that on average, hazard is highest for the segmented model, where seismic moment is accommodated by frequent moderate (moment magnitude, Mw 6.2–6.8) earthquakes. The unsegmented model yields the lowest average seismic hazard because part of the seismic moment is accommodated by large (Mw 6.9–7.9), but infrequent ruptures. We compare these results to model differences derived from other inputs such as slip rate and magnitude scaling relationships and conclude that segmentation exerts a primary control on seismic hazard. This study demonstrates the need for additional geologic constraints on rupture extent and methods by which these observations can be included in hazard-modeling efforts.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Relaxing segmentation on the Wasatch Fault Zone: Impact on seismic hazard
Series title Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America
DOI 10.1785/0120190088
Volume 110
Issue 1
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher GeoScienceWorld
Contributing office(s) Geologic Hazards Science Center
Description 27 p.
First page 83
Last page 109
Country United States
State Utah
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details