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Published September 4, 2012 | Submitted
Conference Paper Open

Simulation of an 1857-like Mw 7.9 San Andreas Fault Earthquake and the Response of Tall Steel Moment Frame Buildings in Southern California – A Prototype Study


In 1857, an earthquake of magnitude 7.9 occurred on the San Andreas fault, starting at Parkfield and rupturing in a southeasterly direction for more than 360 km. Such a unilateral rupture produces significant directivity toward the San Fernando and Los Angeles basins. The strong shaking in the basins due to this earthquake would have had significant long-period content (2-8 s), and the objective of this study is to quantify the impact of such an earthquake on two 18-story steel moment frame building models, hypothetically located at 636 sites on a 3.5 km grid in southern California. End-to-end simulations include modeling the source and rupture of a fault at one end, numerically propagating the seismic waves through the earth structure, simulating the damage to engineered structures and estimating the economic impact at the other end using high-performance computing. In this prototype study, we use an inferred finite source model of the magnitude 7.9, 2002 Denali fault earthquake in Alaska, and map it onto the San Andreas fault with the rupture originating at Parkfield and propagating southward over a distance of 290 km. Using the spectral element seismic wave propagation code, SPECFEM3D, we simulate an 1857-like earthquake on the San Andreas fault and compute ground motions at the 636 analysis sites. Using the nonlinear structural analysis program, FRAME3D, we subsequently analyze 3-D structural models of an existing tall steel building designed using the 1982 Uniform Building Code (UBC), as well as one designed according to the 1997 UBC, subjected to the computed ground motion at each of these sites. We summarize the performance of these structural models on contour maps of peak interstory drift. We then perform an economic loss analysis for the two buildings at each site, using the Matlab Damage and Loss Analysis (MDLA) toolbox developed to implement the PEER loss-estimation methodology. The toolbox includes damage prediction and repair cost estimation for structural and non-structural components and allows for the computation of the mean and variance of building repair costs conditional on engineering demand parameters (i.e. inter-story drift ratios and peak floor accelerations). Here, we modify it to treat steel-frame high-rises, including aspects such as mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, traction elevators, and the possibility of irreparable structural damage. We then generate contour plots of conditional mean losses for the San Fernando and the Los Angeles basins for the pre-Northridge and modern code-designed buildings, allowing for comparison of the economic effects of the updated code for the scenario event. In principle, by simulating multiple seismic events, consistent with the probabilistic seismic hazard for a building site, the same basic approach could be used to quantify the uncertain losses from future earthquakes.

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