Updating the USGS seismic hazard maps for Alaska

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The U.S. Geological Survey makes probabilistic seismic hazard maps and engineering design maps for building codes, emergency planning, risk management, and many other applications. The methodology considers all known earthquake sources with their associated magnitude and rate distributions. Specific faults can be modeled if slip-rate or recurrence information is available. Otherwise, areal sources are developed from earthquake catalogs or GPS data. Sources are combined with ground-motion estimates to compute the hazard. The current maps for Alaska were developed in 2007, and included modeled sources for the Alaska-Aleutian megathrust, a few crustal faults, and areal seismicity sources. The megathrust was modeled as a segmented dipping plane with segmentation largely derived from the slip patches of past earthquakes. Some megathrust deformation is aseismic, so recurrence was estimated from seismic history rather than plate rates. Crustal faults included the Fairweather-Queen Charlotte system, the Denali-Totschunda system, the Castle Mountain fault, two faults on Kodiak Island, and the Transition fault, with recurrence estimated from geologic data. Areal seismicity sources were developed for Benioff-zone earthquakes and for crustal earthquakes not associated with modeled faults. We review the current state of knowledge in Alaska from a seismic-hazard perspective, in anticipation of future updates of the maps. Updated source models will consider revised seismicity catalogs, new information on crustal faults, new GPS data, and new thinking on megathrust recurrence, segmentation, and geometry. Revised ground-motion models will provide up-to-date shaking estimates for crustal earthquakes and subduction earthquakes in Alaska.

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Mueller, C. S., Briggs, R. W., Wesson, R. L., & Petersen, M. D. (2015). Updating the USGS seismic hazard maps for Alaska. Quaternary Science Reviews, 113, 39–47. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2014.10.006

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