Applicability of the site fundamental frequency as a VS30 proxy for Central and Eastern North America

Thursday, 17 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Behzad Hassani and Gail Marie Atkinson, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada
One of the most important issues in developing accurate ground-motion prediction equations (GMPEs) is the effective use of limited regional site information in developing a site effects model. In modern empirical GMPE models site effects are usually characterized by simplified parameters that describe the overall near-surface effects on input ground-motion shaking. The most common site effects parameter is the time-averaged shear-wave velocity in the upper 30 m (VS30), which has been used in the Next Generation Attenuation-West (NGA-West) and NGA-East GMPEs, and is widely used in building code applications. For the NGA-East GMPE database, only 6% of the stations have measured VS30 values, while the rest have proxy-based VS30 values. Proxy-based VS30 values are derived from a weighted average of different proxies’ estimates such as topographic slope and surface geology proxies. For the proxy-based approaches, the uncertainty in the estimation of Vs30 is significantly higher (~0.25, log10 units) than that for stations with measured VS30(0.04, log10 units); this translates into error in site amplification and hence increased ground motion variability.

We introduce a new VS30 proxy as a function of the site fundamental frequency (fpeak) using the NGA-East database, and show that fpeak is a particularly effective proxy for sites in central and eastern North America We first use horizontal to vertical spectra ratios (H/V) of 5%-damped pseudo spectral acceleration (PSA) to find the fpeak values for the recording stations. We develop an fpeak-based VS30 proxy by correlating the measured VS30 values with the corresponding fpeak value. The uncertainty of the VS30 estimate using the fpeak-based model is much lower (0.14, log10 units) than that for the proxy-based methods used in the NGA-East database (0.25 log10 units). The results of this study can be used to recalculate the VS30 values more accurately for stations with known fpeak values (23% of the stations), and potentially reduce the overall variability of the developed NGA-East GMPE models.