Earthquake scenario ground motions for the urban area of Evansville, Indiana

Open-File Report 2011-1260
In collaboration with the Evansville Area Earthquake Hazards Mapping Project (EAEHMP)
By: , and 



The Wabash Valley seismic zone and the New Madrid seismic zone are the closest large earthquake source zones to Evansville, Indiana. The New Madrid earthquakes of 1811-1812, over 180 kilometers (km) from Evansville, produced ground motions with a Modified Mercalli Intensity of VII near Evansville, the highest intensity observed in Indiana. Liquefaction evidence has been documented less than 40 km away from Evansville resulting from two large earthquakes in the past 12,000 years in the Wabash Valley. Two earthquake scenarios are described in this paper that demonstrate the expected ground motions for a 33×42-km region around Evansville based on a repeat earthquake from each of these source regions. We perform a one-dimensional analysis for a grid of sites that takes into account the amplification or deamplification of ground motion in the unconsolidated soil layer using a new three-dimensional model of seismic velocity and bedrock depth. There are significant differences in the calculated amplification from that expected for National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program site class D conditions, with deamplification at many locations within the ancient bedrock valley underlying Evansville. Ground motions relative to the acceleration of gravity (g) in the Evansville area from a simulation of a magnitude (M) 7.7 New Madrid earthquake range from 0.15 to 0.25 g for peak ground acceleration, 0.14 to 0.7 g for 0.2-second (s) spectral acceleration, and 0.05 to 0.25 g for 1.0-s spectral acceleration. Ground motions from a M6.8 Wabash Valley earthquake centered 40 km northwest of the city produce ground motions that decrease with distance from 1.5 to 0.3 g for 0.2-s spectral acceleration when they reach the main part of Evansville, but then increase in amplitude from 0.3 to 0.6 g south of the city and the Ohio River. The densest urbanization in Evansville and Henderson, Ky., is within the area of preferential amplification at 1.0-s period for both scenarios, but the area experiences relatively less amplification than surrounding areas at 0.2 s, consistent with expected resonance periods based on the soil profiles.

Study Area

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Earthquake scenario ground motions for the urban area of Evansville, Indiana
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2011-1260
DOI 10.3133/ofr20111260
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Geologic Hazards Science Center
Description iv, 17 p.
Country United States
State Indiana
City Evansville
Other Geospatial Wabash Valley Seismic Zone;New Madrid Seismic Zone
Online Only (Y/N) Y
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