Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type



Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Edward W. Woolery


A 3D velocity model and 3D wave propagation code have been employed to simulate long-period ground motions in the upper Mississippi embayment. This region is exposed to seismic hazard in the form of large earthquakes in the New Madrid seismic zone and observational data are sparse, making simulation a valuable tool for predicting the effects of large events. These simulations were undertaken in order to estimate ground-motion characteristics and to investigate the influence of the 3D embayment structure and finite-fault mechanics. There are three primary fault zones in the New Madrid seismic zone, each of which was likely associated with one of the three main shocks of the 1811-1812 earthquake sequence. For this study, three simulations have been conducted on each major segment, evaluating the effects of different epicentral locations and rupture directions on ground motions. The full wave field up to a frequency of 0.5 Hz was computed on a 200 × 200 × 50 km3 volume, and up to a frequency of 1.0 Hz on a 100 × 100 × 50 km3 volume, using a staggered-grid finitedifference code. Peak horizontal velocity, bracketed durations, and pseudospectral accelerations were calculated at the free surface. Animations showing the evolution of peak horizontal velocity through time at the free surface were also generated. The New Madrid seismic zone simulations indicate that for the considered bandwidth, finite-fault mechanics such as fault proximity, directivity effect, and slip distribution exert the most control on ground motions. The 3D geologic structure of the upper Mississippi embayment also influences ground motion, with indications that the bedrock surface acts as a wave guide, trapping waves in shallow, low-velocity parts of the embayment.

CG_down.mpg (11658 kB)
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CG_mid.mpg (20316 kB)
CG_midS1.mpg (14872 kB)
CG_up.mpg (20546 kB)
CG_upS1.mpg (21683 kB)
NF_down.mpg (10305 kB)
NF_downS1.mpg (21792 kB)
NF_mid.mpg (10880 kB)
NF_midS1.mpg (21698 kB)
NF_up.mpg (13097 kB)
NF_upS1.mpg (12879 kB)
RF_down.mpg (19731 kB)
RF_downS1.mpg (16876 kB)
RF_mid.mpg (13900 kB)
RF_midS1.mpg (14829 kB)
RF_up.mpg (20176 kB)
RF_upS1.mpg (16998 kB)