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What is an Earthquake?
An earthquake is a shaking of the ground caused by the sudden breaking and
movement of large sections (tectonic plates) of the earth's rocky outermost
crust. The edges of the tectonic plates are marked by faults (or fractures).
Most earthquakes occur along the fault lines when the plates slide past each
other or collide against each other.
The shifting masses send out shock waves that may be powerful enough to:
a. alter the surface of the Earth, thrusting up cliffs and opening great
cracks in the ground
b. cause great damage such as destruction of buildings and other
man-made structures, broken power and gas lines (and the consequent fire),
landslides, snow avalanches, tsunamis (giant sea waves) and volcanic

Causes of Earthquake
1. Interplate and Intraplate Movement
2. Volcanic Activity
3. Nuclear Explosion
4. Collapse of Roof of Mine
5. Reservoir Induced Impounding
6. Foreshocks and Aftershocks

Causes of Earthquake
Intreplate Movement: Plate tectonics
Earthquakes that occur along the boundaries of tectonic plates are called
interplate earthquakes which are generally recorded as large earthquakes.
Earth's outer layer is broken into pieces called tectonic plates which are about
100km thick and are constantly moving towards, away from or past each
other. This phenomenon is caused by convection current, magma injection,
gravity, and descending plates.
Intraplate Movement
Earthquakes that do not occur on plate margins are called intraplate
earthquakes. All earthquakes on mainland Australia and Tasmania are
intraplate. On studying these intraplate earthquakes in various continents,
seismologists have found that most of them are caused by thrust faulting due
to the rocks being squeezed or compressed. It seems that the movement of
the tectonic plates causes the rocks away from their margins to be

Causes of Earthquake
Interplate Movement: Plate Tectonics
Types of Interplate Boundaries
Convergent Boundary- occurs when the
plates move toward each another and exists
in orogenic zones.
Divergent Boundary- occurs when the
plates pull away from each other and
exists where a rift between the plates is
Transform Boundary- occurs when the
crust is neither produced nor destroyed as
the plates slide horizontally past each

Causes of Earthquake
Intraplate Movement: Types of Fault

Normal Fault- occurs when the crust is extended. The hanging wall moves
downward relative to the footwall.
Thrust Fault- occurs when the crust is compressed. The hanging wall moves
upward relative to the footwall.
Strike-strip fault- the fault surface is usually near vertical and motion
results from shearing forces.

Causes of Earthquake
Molten rock, called magma, is stored in
reservoirs under volcanoes. As this magma
moves upwards, it can fracture the rock it
squeezes through, causing earthquakes.
Sometimes the magma collects in a high
level reservoir prior to a volcanic eruption
and as it moves around it causes bursts of
continuous vibration, called volcanic tremor.

Volcanic Activity

Nuclear Explosion

The pressure wave from an underground
explosion will propagate through the ground
and cause a minor earthquake. Theory
suggests that a nuclear explosion could
trigger fault rupture and cause a major quake
at distances within a few 10 km from the shot

Causes of Earthquake
The immediate cause of ground shaking is
the collapse of the roof of the mine or
cavern. An often- observed variation of this
phenomenon is the so called "mine burst".
This happens when the induced stress around
the mine working cause large masses of rock
to fly off the mine face explosively,
producing seismic waves.

Collapse of Roof of Mine
The explanation of how dams can cause
earthquakes is related to extra water pressure
created in microcracks and fissures in the
ground under and near a reservoir. When
water pressure in rocks increases, it acts to
lubricate faults which are already under
tectonic strain, but are prevented from
slipping by friction of rock surfaces.

Reservoir Induced Impounding


Causes of Earthquake
Foreshocks and Aftershocks
Foreshocks are smaller earthquakes that may occur in the same area as a
larger earthquake that follows. They are caused by minor fracturing of rocks
under stress prior to the main break that happens during the largest
earthquake of the series, called the mainshock.
Aftershocks are smaller earthquakes that may occur after the mainshock, in
the same area. They are caused by the mainshock area readjusting to the fault
movement, and some may be the result of continuing movement along the
same fault. The largest aftershocks are usually at least half a magnitude unit
smaller than the mainshock and the aftershock sequence may continue for
months or years after the mainshock.

Seismic Waves
Definition of Seismic Waves
These are the waves of energy caused by the sudden breaking of rock within
the earth or an explosion. They are the energy that travels through the earth
and is recorded on seismographs.

Types of Seismic Waves

1. Body Waves- waves that can travel through the earth's inner layers.
a. Primary Waves( P-Waves or Pressure Waves)
b. Secondary Waves (S-Saves or Shear Waves)
II. Surface Waves (L-Waves) - waves that can move along Earths surface.
a. Rayleigh Waves
b. Love Waves

Body Waves
Primary Wave
Primary wave is a longitudinal
wave in which the direction of
particle motion is in the same or
opposite direction to that of wave
propagation. This is the fastest kind
of seismic wave that first arrive at a
specific point. P waves travel through
solids, liquids and gases.

Secondary Wave
Is a transverse wave in which
the direction of particle motion is at
right angles to the direction of wave
propagation. An S wave is slower
than a P wave and can only move
through solid rock.

Surface Waves
Love Wave
This is the first kind of surface
wave , named after Augustus Edward
Hough Love, a British mathematician
who worked out the mathematical
model for this kind of wave in 1911.
It's the fastest surface wave and
moves the ground from side-to-side.

Rayleigh Wave
A Rayleigh wave (named after
John William Strutt, Lord Rayleigh)
rolls along the ground just like a
wave rolls across a lake or an ocean..
Most of the shaking felt from
earthquake is due to Rayleigh wave,
which can be much larger than other

Velocity Seismic Waves

Propagation velocity of P wave (Vp) and S waves (Vs) respectively,

depends only on the elastic properties of the medium in which they travel:

E = modulus of elasticity
mass density
Poissons ratio
G = shear modulus
Values of wave velocities generally increase with depth within the
Earth with values within the crust typically of the order of 6 km/s for V p and
4 km/s for Vs. P-waves usually travel about times faster than S-waves.

Velocity Seismic Waves

On the other hand, the surface wave velocity depends on the wavelength, the
thickness of the upper layer, and the elastic properties of the two mediums of
the stratified layers. Love waves travel faster than Rayleigh waves and are
the first to appear among the surface wave group. In Rayleigh waves, the
particle motion is always in a vertical plane and traces an elliptical path,
which is retrograde to the direction of wave propagation. The Rayleigh wave
velocity is approximately 0.9 times the transverse wave velocity. In stratified
layers, Rayleigh waves become dispersive (wave velocity varying with
frequency), as with the Love waves. Waves traveling away from the
earthquake source spread in all directions to emerge on the earths surface.
The earthquake energy travels to a station in the form of waves after
reflection and refraction at various boundaries within the earth.

Measurements of Strength and Severity of Earthquakes

Mercalli Intensity Scale

Mercalli intensity Scale was made by Invented by Italian seismologist
Giuseppe Mercalli. It based upon observations of the resulting earthquake
damage and not actually measured on instruments.

Richter Magnitude Scale

Richter Scale was created in 1935 by the American seismologist Charles F.
Richter. It measures how much the ground shakes 60 miles from the
earthquakes epicenter. Richter magnitudes increase logarithmically, meaning
the energy increases 10 times for each magnitude number.

Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale




(Richter Scale)


Only detected by instruments

1 - 1.9


Very light

Only felt by sensitive people; oscillation of hanging objects

2 - 2.9



Small vibratory motion

3 - 3.9



Felt inside buildings; noise produced by moving objects

4 4.9

Slightly strong

Felt by most people; some panic; minor damage



Damage to non-seismic resistant structures


Very Strong

People running; some damage in seismic resistant structures and

serious damage to un-reinforced masonry structures

5 5.9



Serious damage to structures in general


Serious damage to well-built structures; almost total destruction

of non-seismic resistant structures


Only seismic resistant structures remain standing


Very disastrous

General panic; almost total destruction; the ground cracks

and opens



Total destruction


7 - 7.9

8 8.9

Richter Magnitude Scale


Equivalent Energy Yield TNT

6 oz.
30 lbs.


320 lbs


1 ton


4.6 tons


29 tons


73 Tons


1,000 tons
5,100 tons


32,000 tons


80,000 tons
1 million tons
5 million tons


32 million tons


160 million tons

1 billion tons
5 billion tons
32 billion tons
1 trillion tons


160 trillion tons

Breaking a rock on a lab table
Large Blast at a Construction Site

Large Quarry or Mine Blast

Small Nuclear Weapon

Average tornado

Little Skull Mtn., NV Quake, 1992

Double Spring Flat, NV Quake, 1994
Northridge, CA Quake, 1994
Hyogo-Ken Nanbu, Japan Quake, 1995; Largest
Thermonuclear Weapon
Landers, CA Quake, 1992
San Francisco, CA Quake, 1906
Anchorage, AK Quake, 1964
Chilean Quake, 1960
San-Andreas type fault circling Earth
Fault Earth in half through center, OR Earth's daily receipt of

Modification of Earthquake Due to Soil

Data from two well recorded earthquakes, the Mexico City earthquake in
1985 and Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, among many others, revealed
some interesting features of the local site effect on free field ground
motions. These can be summarized as below:
a. Attenuation of ground motion through rock over a large distance (of the
order of 300 km) was significant; a PGA (peak ground acceleration) of the
order of only 0.03g was observed at a site having an epicentral distance of
350 km for an earthquake of magnitude 8.1.
b. For a soil deposit with , the magnification factor for the PGA was about 5
for a PGA at the rock bed level, equal to 0.03g. Further, the predominant
period was also drastically changed and was close to the fundamental period
of the soil deposit.

Modification of Earthquake Due to Soil

c. The duration of the shaking was also considerably increased at the site
where a soft soil deposit was present.
d. Over a loose, sandy soil layer underlain by San Francisco mud, the PGA
amplification was found to be nearly 3 for a PGA level at the rock bed, as
e. The shape of the response spectrum over soft soil becomes narrow banded
compared with that at the rock bed.
f. Spectral amplifications are more for soft soils as compared with stiff soils
for longer periods (in the range 0.52.0 s).
g. As the PGA at the rock bed increases, the amplification factor for PGA at
the soil surface decreases.

Seismic Hazard Analysis

Seismic Hazard- any physical phenomenon, such as ground shaking or
ground failure, which is associated with an earthquake and that, may
produce adverse effects on human activities.
Seismic Hazard Analysis- involves the quantitative estimation of ground
shaking hazards at a particular area. The most important factors affecting
seismic hazard at a location are:
a. Earthquake magnitude
b. the source-to-site distance
c. earthquake rate of occurrence (return period)
d. duration of ground shaking
Types of Seismic Hazard Analysis:
1. Deterministic Seismic Hazard Analysis
2. Probabilistic Seismic Hazard Analysis

Deterministic Seismic Hazard Analysis

In Deterministic Seismic Hazard Analysis (DSHA), is done for a particular
earthquake, either assumed or realistic. The DSHA approach uses the known
seismic sources sufficiently near the site and available historical seismic and
geological data to generate discrete, single-valued events or models of
ground motion at the site. Typically one or more earthquakes are specified by
magnitude and location with respect to the site. Usually the earthquakes are
assumed to occur on the portion of the site closest to the site. The site ground
motions are estimated deterministically, given the magnitude, source-to-site
distance, and site condition.

Steps in Deterministic Seismic Hazard Analysis

1. Identification and characterization of all sources
2. Selection of source-site distance parameter
3. Selection of controlling earthquake.
4. Definition of hazard using controlling earthquake

Deterministic Seismic Hazard Analysis (Step 1)

Step 1: Identification of all sources capable of producing significant ground
motion at the site such as Large sources at long distances and Small sources
at short distances. Characterization includes:
A. Definition of Source Geometry
B. Establishment of Earthquake Potential

Source Geometry

Point Source

Areal Source

Line Source

Volumetric Source

Deterministic Seismic Hazard Analysis (Step 1)

A. Definition of Source Geometry
1. Point source where there is constant source- to site distance. Earthquakes
associated with volcanic activity, for example, generally originate in zones
near the volcanoes that are small enough to allow them to be characterized as
point source.
2. Linear source in which one parameter controls distance example Shallow
and distant fault.
3. Areal source in which two geometric parameters control distance example
Constant depth crustal source. Well defined fault planes, on which
earthquakes can occur at many different locations, can be considered as twodimensional areal sources.
4. Areas where earthquake mechanisms are poorly defined, or where faulting
is so extensive as to preclude distinction between individual faults, can be
treated as three-dimensional volumetric sources

Deterministic Seismic Hazard Analysis (Step 1)

Establishment of Earthquake Potential

Typically, the maximum earthquake potential Mmax can be found by the following:

1. Empirical correlations:
a. Rupture length correlations
b. Rupture area correlations
c. Maximum surface displacement correlations
2. Theoretical determination by Slip rate correlations:
Slip rate approach: seismic moment is given by the following equation, where = shear modulus of
rock, A = rupture area, D = average displacement over rupture area

Slip rate (S) approach: If average displacement relieves stress/strain built up by movement of the plates
over some period, T, then

Knowing the slip rate and knowing (assuming) values of m, A, and T, the moment rate can be used
estimate the seismic moment as


Deterministic Seismic Hazard Analysis (Step 2)

Step 2: Selection of source-site distance parameter must be consistent with
predictive relationship and should include finite fault effect.

Deterministic Seismic Hazard Analysis 9(Step 1)

Measurement of Distances

Deterministic Seismic Hazard Analysis (Step 2)

Typically assume shortest source-site distance for Point Source, Linear
source, Areal source and Volumetric source

Point Source

Areal Source

Line Source

Volumetric Source

Deterministic Seismic Hazard Analysis (Step 3)

Step 3: Selection of Controlling Earthquakes is based on ground motion
parameter(s). Consider all sources, assume Mmax occurs at Rmin for each
source Compute ground motion parameter(s) based on Mmax and Rmin
Determine critical value(s) of ground motion parameter(s). An example is
shown in the figure below.

Deterministic Seismic Hazard Analysis (Step 4)

Step 4: Definition of hazard using controlling earthquake involves the use of
M and R to determine parameters such as Peak acceleration, spectral
acceleration and Duration.
DSHA calculations are relatively simple, but implementation of procedure in
practice involves numerous difficult judgments. The lack of explicit
consideration of uncertainties should not be taken to imply that those
uncertainties do not exist.
Typical results obtained from DSHA analysis is shown in the figure below.

Probabilistic Seismic Hazard Analysis

Probabilistic hazard analysis (PSHA) uses probabilistic concepts to predict
the probability of occurrence of a certain level of ground shaking at a site by
considering uncertainties in the size, location, rate of occurrence of
earthquake, and the predictive relationship. The PSHA is carried out using
following steps.
The first step is to identify and characterize the earthquake sources
probabilistically. This involves assigning a probability of occurrence of an
earthquake at a point within the source zone. Generally, a uniform probability
distribution is assumed for each source zone, that is, it is assumed that the
earthquake originating from each point within the source zone is equally
likely. Secondly, the probability distribution of the source to site distance,
considering all points in the source zone to be potential sources of an
earthquake, is determined from the source geometry.

Probabilistic Seismic Hazard Analysis

The second step is to characterize the seismicity of each source zone. The
seismicity is specified by a recurrence relationship indicating the average rate
at which an earthquake of a particular size will be exceeded. The standard
GutenbergRichter recurrence law is used for this purpose, that is,

= 2.303 a
= 2.303 b
= denotes the average return period of the earthquake of magnitude m
earthquakes lower than a threshold value
expression for is modified:

are eliminated, then the

Probabilistic Seismic Hazard Analysis

if both the upper and lower limits are incorporated, then is given

= <

= exp
The CDF (cumulative distribution function) and PDF (probability density
function) of the magnitude of earthquake for each source zone can be
determined from this recurrence relationship as:

Probabilistic Seismic Hazard Analysis

In the third step, a predictive relationship is used to obtain a seismic
parameter (such as the PGA) at the site for a given magnitude of earthquake
and source to site distance for each source zone. The uncertainty inherent in
the predictive relationship (attenuation law) is included in the PSHA analysis.
Generally, the uncertainty is expressed by a log normal distribution by
specifying a standard deviation for the seismic parameter and the predictive
relationship is expressed for the mean value of the parameter.
Finally, the uncertainties in earthquake location, earthquake size, and ground
motion parameter prediction are combined to obtain the probability that the
ground motion parameter will be 24 Seismic Analysis of Structures exceeded
during a particular time period. This combination is accomplished through
the following standard equation:

Probabilistic Seismic Hazard Analysis

- average exceedance rate of the seismic parameter Y
- number of earthquake source zones around the site
- average rate of threshold magnitude exceedance for ith source
- the probability of exceedance of the seismic parameter y greater than y for
a given pair of magnitude m and source to site distance r
- the probability density functions of the magnitude of the earthquake and
source to site distance for the ith source zone