Deterministic earthquake scenario for the Basel area: Simulating strong motions and site effects for Basel Switzerland

Ivo Opršal*, Donat Fäh, P. Martin Mai, Domenico Giardini

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The Basel earthquake of 18 October 1356 is considered one of the most serious earthquakes in Europe in recent centuries (I0 = IX, M ≈ 6.5-6.9). In this paper we present ground motion simulations for earthquake scenarios for the city of Basel and its vicinity. The numerical modeling combines the finite extent pseudodynamic and kinematic source models with complex local structure in a two-step hybrid three-dimensional (3-D) finite difference (FD) method. The synthetic seismograms are accurate in the frequency band 0-2.2 Hz. The 3-D FD is a linear explicit displacement formulation using an irregular rectangular grid including topography. The finite extent rupture model is adjacent to the free surface because the fault has been recognized through trenching on the Reinach fault. We test two source models reminiscent of past earthquakes (the 1999 Athens and the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake) to represent Mw ≈ 5.9 and Mw ≈ 6.5 events that occur approximately to the south of Basel. To compare the effect of the same wave field arriving at the site from other directions, we considered the same sources placed east and west of the city. The local structural model is determined from the area's recently established P and S wave velocity structure and includes topography. The selected earthquake scenarios show strong ground motion amplification with respect to a bedrock site, which is in contrast to previous 2-D simulations for the same area. In particular, we found that the edge effects from the 3-D structural model depend strongly on the position of the earthquake source within the modeling domain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberB04305
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 4 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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