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Published April 1959 | Published
Journal Article Open

Seismic regionalization

Richter, C. F.


In the USSR earthquake risk is now officially mapped by division into areas numbered with the degrees of the Modified Mercalli intensity scale, to show maximum reasonably expectable intensity during future earthquakes on ground of the prevailing character. This paper presents and discusses maps on the same plan for the Los Angeles Basin and its vicinity, for California, and for the United States. The effect of variation of ground from point to point can be shown only on a large scale. This is microregionalization; the map for the Los Angeles Basin is an example. Small-scale regionalization maps require generalization. Prevailing ground is selected, not strictly by percentage of area, but by considering the foundation likely to be used for construction, in mountainous areas mostly small alluvial patches less stable than the surrounding rock. Regionalization and especially microregionalization can be used in construction and planning, as indicating maximum effects to be considered in designing permanent structures. In adjusting insurance rates, and in designing temporary structures, statistical frequency of occurrence is also involved. Over small areas, regionalization depends largely on local variation of ground and geology; over large areas, distance from active faults must be considered. Attention should be given to the effect of structural trends and of wave path on the form of isoseismal curves. Mapping for the Los Angeles Basin area is reasonably definite. That for California is fairly reliable, but less so in desert and mountain areas. That for the United States is in part highly speculative and subject to substantial change.

Additional Information

Copyright © 1959, by the Seismological Society of America. Manuscript received for publication December 4, 1958.

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