Intensity distribution and isoseismal maps for the Nisqually, Washington, earthquake of 28 February 2001

Open-File Report 2002-346
By: , and 



We present isoseismal maps, macroseismic intensities, and community summaries of damage for the MW=6.8 Nisqually, Washington, earthquake of 28 February, 2001. For many communities, two types of macroseismic intensity are assigned, the traditional U.S. Geological Survey Modified Mercalli Intensities (USGS MMI) and a type of intensity newly introduced with this paper, the USGS Reviewed Community Internet Intensity (RCII). For most communities, the RCII is a reviewed version of the Community Internet Intensity (CII) of Wald and others (1999). For some communities, RCII is assigned from such non-CII sources as press reports, engineering reports, and field reconnaissance observations. We summarize differences between procedures used to assign RCII and USGS MMI, and we show that the two types of intensity are nonetheless very similar for the Nisqually earthquake. We do not see evidence for systematic differences between RCII and USGS MMI that would approach one intensity unit, at any level of shaking, but we document a tendency for the RCII to be slightly lower than MMI in regions of low intensity and slightly higher than MMI in regions of high intensity. The highest RCII calculated for the Nisqually earthquake is 7.6, calculated for zip code 98134, which includes the ?south of downtown? (Sodo) area of Seattle and Harbor Island. By comparison, we assigned a traditional USGS MMI 8 to the Sodo area of Seattle. In all, RCII of 6.5 and higher were assigned to 58 zip-code regions. At the lowest intensities, the Nisqually earthquake was felt over an area of approximately 350,000 square km (approximately 135,000 square miles) in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and southern British Columbia, Canada. On the basis of macroseismic effects, we infer that shaking in the southern Puget Sound region was somewhat less for the 2001 Nisqually earthquake than for the Puget Sound earthquake of April 13, 1949, which had nearly the same hypocenter and magnitude. Allowing for differences in hypocenter, shaking in the 2001 earthquake was very similar to that produced by the Puget Sound earthquake of April 25, 1965. First-person accounts of the effects of the 2001 earthquake on individual households are given for some communities.
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Intensity distribution and isoseismal maps for the Nisqually, Washington, earthquake of 28 February 2001
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2002-346
DOI 10.3133/ofr02346
Edition Version 1.0
Year Published 2002
Language ENGLISH
Description 57 p., illus. incl. sketch maps, 23 refs
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