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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 14, issue 6 | Copyright
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 14, 1391-1406, 2014
© Author(s) 2014. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 04 Jun 2014

Research article | 04 Jun 2014

On the behavior of site effects in central Mexico (the Mexican volcanic belt – MVB), based on records of shallow earthquakes that occurred in the zone between 1998 and 2011

A. Clemente-Chavez1, F. R. Zúñiga2, J. Lermo3, A. Figueroa-Soto2, C. Valdés4, M. Montiel1, O. Chavez1, and M. Arroyo1 A. Clemente-Chavez et al.
  • 1División de Investigación y Posgrado, Facultad de Ingeniería, Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro, Centro Universitario, Cerro de las Campanas s/n, Querétaro, Querétaro, C.P. 76010, México
  • 2Centro de Geociencias (CGEO), Juriquilla, UNAM, P.O. Box 1-742, Querétaro, Querétaro, C.P. 76001, México
  • 3Instituto de Ingeniería, UNAM, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, México D.F., C.P. 04510, México
  • 4Instituto de Geofísica, UNAM, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, México D.F., C.P. 04510, México

Abstract. The Mexican volcanic belt (MVB) is a seismogenic zone that transects the central part of Mexico with an east–west orientation. The seismic risk and hazard of this seismogenic zone has not been studied in detail due to the scarcity of instrumental data as well as because seismicity in the continental regime of central Mexico is not too frequent. However, it is known that there are precedents of large earthquakes (Mw > 6.0) that have taken place in this zone. The valley of Mexico City (VM) is the sole zone, within the MVB, that has been studied in detail. Studies have mainly focused on the ground amplification during large events such as the 1985 subduction earthquake that occurred off coast of Michoacán. The purpose of this article is to analyze the behavior of site effects in the MVB zone based on records of shallow earthquakes (data not reported before) that occurred in the zone between 1998 and 2011. We present a general overview of site effects in the MVB, a classification of the stations in order to reduce the uncertainty in the data when obtaining attenuation parameters in future works, as well as some comparisons between the information presented here and that presented in previous studies.

A regional evaluation of site effects and Fourier acceleration spectrum (FAS) shape was estimated based on 80 records of 22 shallow earthquakes within the MVB zone. Data of 25 stations were analyzed. Site effects were estimated by using the horizontal-to-vertical spectral ratio (HVSR) methodology. The results show that seismic waves are less amplified in the northeast sites of the MVB with respect to the rest of the zone and that it is possible to classify two groups of stations: (1) stations with negligible site amplification (NSA) and (2) stations with significant site amplification (SSA). Most of the sites in the first group showed small (<3) amplifications while the second group showed amplifications ranging from 4 to 6.5 at frequencies of about 0.35, 0.75, 15 and 23 Hz. With these groups of stations, average levels of amplification were contrasted for the first time with those caused by the subduction zone earthquakes. With respect to the FAS shapes, most of them showed similarities at similar epicentral distances. Finally, some variations of site effects were found when compared to those obtained in previous studies on different seismicity regions. These variations were attributed to the location of the source.

These aspects help to advance the understanding about the amplification behavior and of the expected seismic risk on central Mexico due to large earthquakes within the MVB seismogenic zone.

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