Characterisation of the Groningen subsurface for seismic hazard and risk modelling


The shallow subsurface of Groningen, the Netherlands, is heterogeneous due to its formation in a Holocene tidal coastal setting on a periglacially and glacially inherited landscape with strong lateral variation in subsurface architecture. Soft sediments with low, small-strain shear wave velocities (VS30 around 200ms(-1)) are known to amplify earthquake motions. Knowledge of the architecture and properties of the subsurface and the combined effect on the propagation of earthquake waves is imperative for the prediction of geohazards of ground shaking and liquefaction at the surface. In order to provide information for the seismic hazard and risk analysis, two geological models were constructed. The first is the Geological model for Site response in Groningen' (GSG model) and is based on the detailed 3D GeoTOP voxel model containing lithostratigraphy and lithoclass attributes. The GeoTOP model was combined with information from boreholes, cone penetration tests, regional digital geological and geohydrological models to cover the full range from the surface down to the base of the North Sea Supergroup (base Paleogene) at similar to 800m depth. The GSG model consists of a microzonation based on geology and a stack of soil stratigraphy for each of the 140,000 grid cells (100m x 100 m) to which properties (VS and parameters relevant for nonlinear soil behaviour) were assigned. The GSG model serves as input to the site response calculations that feed into the Ground Motion Model. The second model is the Geological model for Liquefaction sensitivity in Groningen' (GLG). Generally, loosely packed sands might be susceptible to liquefaction upon earthquake shaking. In order to delineate zones of loosely packed sand in the first 40m below the surface, GeoTOP was combined with relative densities inferred from a large cone penetration test database. The marine Naaldwijk and Eem Formations have the highest proportion of loosely packed sand (31% and 38%, respectively) and thus are considered to be the most vulnerable to liquefaction; other units contain 5-17% loosely packed sand. The GLG model serves as one of the inputs for further research on the liquefaction potential in Groningen, such as the development of region-specific magnitude scaling factors (MSF) and depth-stress reduction relationships (r(d)).



geology, liquefaction, microzonation, site response, soil properties