Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences


Earth and Environmental Sciences (Geology)

First Advisor

Dr. Edward W. Woolery

Second Advisor

Dr. Zhenming Wang


The central and eastern United States is subject to seismic hazards from both natural and induced earthquakes, as evidenced by the 1811-1812 New Madrid earthquake sequence, consisting of at least three magnitude 7 and greater earthquakes, and by four magnitude 5 and greater induced earthquakes in Oklahoma since 2011. To mitigate seismic hazards, both earthquake sources and their effects need to be characterized.

Ground motion site response can cause additional damage to susceptible infrastructure and buildings. Recent studies indicate that Vs30, one of the primary site-response predictors used in current engineering practice, is not reliable. To investigate site response in the New Madrid Seismic Zone, ratios of surface-to-bedrock amplitude spectra, TFT, from S-wave recordings at the two deep vertical seismic arrays in the sediment-filled upper Mississippi Embayment (i.e., VSAP and CUSSO) were calculated. The mean TFT curves were compared with theoretical transfer functions; the results were comparable, indicating that TFT estimates of the empirical, linear SH-wave site responses at these sites. The suitability of surface S-wave horizontal-to-vertical spectral ratios, H/V, for estimating the empirical site transfer function was also evaluated. The results indicate that mean S-wave H/V curves are similar to TFT at low frequencies (less than the fifth natural frequencies) at both CUSSO and VSAP.

SH-wave fundamental frequency, f0, and fundamental-mode amplification, A0, were evaluated as alternatives to the Vs30 proxy to estimate primary linear site-response characteristics at VSAP, CUSSO, and nine other seismic stations in the CEUS. In addition, calculated f0 and A0 were compared with the first peaks of S-wave H/V spectral ratios. The f0 and A0 were found to approximate the 1-D linear, viscoelastic, fundamental-mode responses at most stations. Also, S-wave H/V from weak-motion earthquakes can be used to measure f0. However, S-wave H/V does not reliably estimate A0 in the project area. S-wave H/V observations reveal site response within the frequency band of engineering interest from deeper, unmodeled geological structures.

Because damaging or felt earthquakes induced by hydraulic fracturing and wastewater disposal have occurred in the CEUS, characterizing background seismicity prior to new large-scale subsurface fluid injection is important to identify cases of and the potential for induced seismicity. The Rogersville Shale in the Rome Trough of eastern Kentucky is being tested for unconventional oil and gas potential; production of this shale requires hydraulic fracturing, which has been linked to induced seismicity elsewhere in the CEUS. To characterize natural seismicity and to monitor induced seismicity during testing, a temporary seismic network was deployed in the Rome Trough near the locations of new, Rogersville Shale oil and gas test wells. Using the real-time recordings of this network and those of other regional seismic stations, three years of local seismicity were cataloged. Only three earthquakes occurred in the Rome Trough of eastern Kentucky, none of which was associated with the deep Rogersville Shale test wells that were stimulated during the time the network was in operation.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)