Strong Motion Recording in the United States
Monday, 15 December 2014: 2:10 PM
The United States strong motion program began in 1932 when the Coast and Geodetic Survey (C&GS) installed eight strong motion accelerographs in California. During the March 1933 Long Beach earthquake, three of these produced the first strong motion records. With this success the C&GS expanded the number of accelerographs to 71 by 1964. With development of less expensive, mass-produced accelerographs the number of strong motion accelerographs expanded to ~575 by 1972. Responsibilities for operating the network and disseminating data were transferred to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 1970 and then to the U.S. Geological Survey in 1973. In 1972 the California Legislature established the California Strong Motion Instrumentation Program (CSMIP). CSMIP operates accelerographs at 812 ground stations, with multi-channel accelerographs in 228 buildings, 125 lifelines and 37 geotechnical arrays, in California. The USGS and the ANSS effort operate accelerographs at 1584 ground stations, 96 buildings, 14 bridges, 70 dams, and 15 multi-channel geotechnical arrays. The USC Los Angeles array has 78 ground stations; UCSB operates 5 geotechnical arrays; other government and private institutions also operate accelerographs. Almost all accelerographs are now digital with a sampling rate of 200 Hz. Most of the strong motion data can be downloaded from the Center for Engineering Strong Motion Data (http://strongmotioncenter.org
). As accelerographs have become more sophisticated, the concept of what constitutes strong motion has blurred because small earthquakes (M ~3) are well recorded on accelerometers as well as seismometers. However, when accelerations are over ~10%g and velocities over ~1 cm/s, the accelerometers remain on scale, providing the unclipped data necessary to analyze the ground motion and its consequences. Strong motion data are essential to the development of ground motion prediction equations, understanding structural response, performance based engineering, soil response, and inversions for earthquake rupture parameters. While an important number of stations have been installed, many areas of the US are significantly deficient, e.g., recordings were obtained from only 2 stations within 60 km of the Mineral earthquake that damaged the nation’s capital and other areas.