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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2019-30
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2019-30
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 11 Mar 2019

Research article | 11 Mar 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (NHESS).

Contrasting seismic risk for Santiago, Chile, from near-field and distant earthquake sources

Ekbal Hussain1,2, John R. Elliott1, Vitor Silva3, Mabé Vilar-Vega3, and Deborah Kane4 Ekbal Hussain et al.
  • 1COMET, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK
  • 2British Geological Survey, Natural Environment Research Council, Environmental Science Centre, Keyworth, Nottingham, NG12 5GG, UK
  • 3GEM Foundation, Via Ferrata 1, 27100 Pavia, Italy
  • 4Risk Management Solutions, Inc., Newark, CA, USA

Abstract. More than half of all the people in the world now live in dense urban centres. The rapid expansion of cities, particularly in low-income nations, has enabled the economic and social development of millions of people. However, many of these cities are located near active tectonic faults that have not produced an earthquake in recent memory, raising the risk of losing the hard-earned progress through a devastating earthquake. In this paper we explore the possible impact that earthquakes can pose to the city of Santiago in Chile from various potential near-field and distant earthquake sources. We use high resolution stereo satellite imagery and derived digital elevation models to accurately map the trace of the San Ramón Fault, a recently recognised active fault located along the eastern margins of the city. We use scenario based seismic risk analysis to compare and contrast the estimated damage and losses to the city from several potential earthquake sources and one past event, comprising (i) rupture of the San Ramón Fault, (ii) a hypothesised buried shallow fault beneath the centre of the city, (iii) a deep intra-slab fault, and (iv) the 2010 Mw 8.8 Maule earthquake. We find that there is a strong magnitude-distance trade-off in terms of damage and losses to the city, with smaller magnitude earthquakes on more local faults, in the magnitude range 6–7.5, producing 9 to 17 times more damage to the city and estimated fatalities compared to the great magnitude 8+ earthquakes located offshore on the subduction zone. Our calculations for this part of Chile show that unreinforced masonry structures are the most vulnerable to these types of earthquake shaking. We identify particularly vulnerable districts, such as Ñuñoa, Santiago and Macul, where targeted retrofitting campaigns would be most effective at reducing potential economic and human losses. Due to the potency of near-field earthquake sources demonstrated here, our work highlights the importance of also identifying and considering proximal minor active faults for cities in seismic zones globally, in addition to the more major distant large fault zones that are typically focused on in the assessment of hazard.

Ekbal Hussain et al.
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Short summary
Many of the rapidly expanding cities around the world are located near active tectonic faults that have not produced an earthquake in recent memory. But these faults are generally small and so most previous seismic hazard analysis has focused on large more distant faults. In this paper we show that a moderate size earthquake on a fault close to the city of Santiago in Chile has a greater impact to the city than a great earthquake on the tectonic boundary in the ocean about a 100 km away.
Many of the rapidly expanding cities around the world are located near active tectonic faults...
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