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Published April 1978 | Published
Journal Article Open

Determination of local magnitude, M_L, from strong-motion accelerograms


A technique is presented for determination of local magnitude, M_L, from strong-motion accelerograms. The accelerograph records are used as an acceleration input to the equation of motion of the Wood-Anderson torsion seismograph to produce a synthetic seismogram which is then read in the standard manner. When applied to 14 records from the San Fernando earthquake, the resulting M_L is 6.35, with a standard deviation of 0.26. This is in good agreement with the previously reported value of 6.3. The technique is also applied to other earthquakes in the western United States for which strong-motion records are available. An average value of M_L = 7.2 is obtained for the 1952 Kern County earthquake; this number is significantly smaller than the commonly used value of 7.7, which is more nearly a surface-wave magnitude. The method presented broadens the base from which M_L can be found and allows M_L to be determined in large earthquakes for which no standard assessment of local magnitude is possible. In addition, in instances where a large number of accelerograms are available, reliable values of M_L can be determined by averaging.

Additional Information

Copyright © 1978, by the Seismological Society of America. Manuscript received September 1, 1977. The authors wish to acknowledge the assistance of James L. Beck and Albert Ting in performing the calculations reported in this study. The financial assistance of the U.S. Geological Survey, under Survey Contracts 14-08-0001-15893, 14-08-001-16676, the National Science Foundation under Grant ATA 74-19135, and the Earthquake Research Affiliates of the California Institute of Technology is also gratefully acknowledged.

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