Articles | Volume 14, issue 9
Research article
25 Sep 2014
Research article |  | 25 Sep 2014

Earthquake scenario in West Bengal with emphasis on seismic hazard microzonation of the city of Kolkata, India

S. K. Nath, M. D. Adhikari, S. K. Maiti, N. Devaraj, N. Srivastava, and L. D. Mohapatra

Abstract. Seismic microzonation is a process of estimating site-specific effects due to an earthquake on urban centers for its disaster mitigation and management. The state of West Bengal, located in the western foreland of the Assam–Arakan Orogenic Belt, the Himalayan foothills and Surma Valley, has been struck by several devastating earthquakes in the past, indicating the need for a seismotectonic review of the province, especially in light of probable seismic threat to its capital city of Kolkata, which is a major industrial and commercial hub in the eastern and northeastern region of India. A synoptic probabilistic seismic hazard model of Kolkata is initially generated at engineering bedrock (Vs30 ~ 760 m s−1) considering 33 polygonal seismogenic sources at two hypocentral depth ranges, 0–25 and 25–70 km; 158 tectonic sources; appropriate seismicity modeling; 14 ground motion prediction equations for three seismotectonic provinces, viz. the east-central Himalaya, the Bengal Basin and Northeast India selected through suitability testing; and appropriate weighting in a logic tree framework. Site classification of Kolkata performed following in-depth geophysical and geotechnical investigations places the city in D1, D2, D3 and E classes. Probabilistic seismic hazard assessment at a surface-consistent level – i.e., the local seismic hazard related to site amplification performed by propagating the bedrock ground motion with 10% probability of exceedance in 50 years through a 1-D sediment column using an equivalent linear analysis – predicts a peak ground acceleration (PGA) range from 0.176 to 0.253 g in the city. A deterministic liquefaction scenario in terms of spatial distribution of liquefaction potential index corresponding to surface PGA distribution places 50% of the city in the possible liquefiable zone. A multicriteria seismic hazard microzonation framework is proposed for judicious integration of multiple themes, namely PGA at the surface, liquefaction potential index, NEHRP soil site class, sediment class, geomorphology and ground water table in a fuzzy protocol in the geographical information system by adopting an analytical hierarchal process. The resulting high-resolution surface consistent hazard, liquefaction and microzonation maps are expected to play vital roles in earthquake-related disaster mitigation and management of the city of Kolkata.