Calibrating a new attenuation curve for the Dead Sea region using surface wave dispersion surveys in sites damaged by the 1927 Jericho earthquake

Yaniv Darvasi*, Amotz Agnon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Instrumental strong motion data are not common around the Dead Sea region. Therefore, calibrating a new attenuation equation is a considerable challenge. However, the Holy Land has a remarkable historical archive, attesting to numerous regional and local earthquakes. Combining the historical record with new seismic measurements will improve the regional equation. On 11 July 1927, a rupture, in the crust in proximity to the northern Dead Sea, generated a moderate 6.2ML earthquake. Up to 500 people were killed, and extensive destruction was recorded, even as far as 150 km from the focus. We consider local near-surface properties, in particular, the shearwave velocity, as an amplification factor. Where the shearwave velocity is low, the seismic intensity far from the focus would likely be greater than expected from a standard attenuation curve. In this work, we used the multichannel analysis of surface waves (MASW) method to estimate seismic wave velocity at anomalous sites in Israel in order to calibrate a new attenuation equation for the Dead Sea region. Our new attenuation equation contains a term which quantifies only lithological effects, while factors such as building quality, foundation depth, topography, earthquake directivity, type of fault, etc. remain out of our scope. Nonetheless, about 60% of the measured anomalous sites fit expectations; therefore, this new ground-motion prediction equation (GMPE) is statistically better than the old ones. From our local point of view, this is the first time that integration of the 1927 historical data and modern shearwave velocity profile measurements improved the attenuation equation (sometimes referred to as the attenuation relation) for the Dead Sea region. In the wider context, regions of low-to-moderate seismicity should use macroseismic earth earthquake data, together with modern measurements, in order to better estimate the peak ground acceleration or the seismic intensities to be caused by future earthquakes. This integration will conceivably lead to a better mitigation of damage from future earthquakes and should improve maps of seismic hazard.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)379-390
Number of pages12
JournalSolid Earth
Issue number2
StatePublished - 7 Mar 2019

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