Kathmandu Basin as a local modulator of seismic waves: 2D modelling of nonlinear site response under obliquely incident waves

This is a Preprint and has not been peer reviewed. The published version of this Preprint is available: https://doi.org/10.1093/gji/ggac302. This is version 2 of this Preprint.

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Elif Oral , Peyman Ayoubi, Jean Paul Ampuero , Domniki Asimaki, Luis Fabian Bonilla 


The 2015 Mw 7.8 Gorkha, Nepal earthquake is the largest event to have struck the capital city of Kathmandu in recent times. One of its surprising features was the frequency content of the recorded ground motion, exhibiting a notable amplification at low frequencies (< 2 Hz) and a contrasting depletion at higher frequencies. The latter has been partially attributed to the damper behaviour of the Kathmandu basin. While such weak high-frequency ground motion helped avoiding severe damage in the city, the catastrophic outcomes of earlier earthquakes in the region attest to a contrasting role of the Kathmandu basin as a broadband amplifier, in addition to possible source effects. Given the possibility of future strong events in the region, our main objective is to elucidate the seismic behaviour of the Kathmandu basin by focusing on site effects. We numerically model 2D P-SV wave propagation in a broad frequency band (up to 10 Hz), incorporating the most recent data for the Kathmandu basin geometry, soil stratigraphy and geotechnical soil properties, and accounting for the non-linear effect of multi-dimensional soil plasticity on wave propagation. We find that: 1) the Kathmandu basin generally amplifies low frequency ground motion (< 2 Hz); 2) waves with large incidence angles relative to vertical can dramatically amplify the high frequency ground motion with respect to bedrock despite the damping effect of soil nonlinearity; 3) the spatial distribution of peak ground motion amplitudes along the basin is highly sensitive to soil nonlinearity and wave incidence (angle and direction), favoring larger values near the basin edges located closer to the source, as observed during the 2015 event. Our modelling approach and findings can support the ongoing resilience practices in Nepal and can guide future seismic hazard assessment studies for other sites that feature similar complexities in basin geometry, soil stratigraphy and dynamic soil behaviour.




Civil Engineering, Earth Sciences, Geophysics and Seismology, Geotechnical Engineering


Asia, Elasticity and anelasticity, Site effects, Asia, Earthquake ground motions, Site effects, Wave propa- gation, Elasticity and anelasticity


Published: 2021-10-14 17:06

Last Updated: 2022-09-26 17:09

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