A structural VP model of the Salton Trough, California, and its implications for seismic hazard

Peter Lovely, John H. Shaw, Qinya Liu, Jeroen Tromp

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16 Scopus citations


We present a high-resolution, three-dimensional P-wave seismic velocity model of the sedimentary basin in the Salton Trough, southern California, and use the model for spectral-element method (SEM) wave propagation and groundmotion simulations to quantitatively assess seismic hazard in the region. The basin geometry is defined by a surface representing the top of crystalline basement, which was constrained by seismic refraction profiles and free-air gravity data. Sonic logs from petroleum wells in the Imperial Valley and isovelocity surfaces defined by seismic refraction studies were used to define P-wave velocity within the sedimentary basin as a function of two variables: (1) absolute depth and (2) depth of the underlying crystalline basement surface (CBS). This velocity function was used to populate cells of a three-dimensional spatial array (voxet) defining the P-wave velocity structure in the basin. The new model was then resampled in a computational mesh used for earthquake wave propagation and strong ground motion simulations based upon the SEM (Komatitsch et al., 2004). Simulation of the 3 November 2002 Mw 4.2 Yorba Linda earthquake demonstrates that the new model provides accurate simulation of strong ground motion amplification effects in the Salton Trough sedimentary basin, offering substantial improvements over previous models. A hypothetical Mw 7.9 earthquake on the southern San Andreas fault was then simulated in an effort to better understand the seismic hazard associated with the basin structure. These simulations indicate that great amplification will occur during large earthquakes in the region due to the low seismic velocity of the sediments and the basin shape and depth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1882-1896
Number of pages15
JournalBulletin of the Seismological Society of America
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2006
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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