How much are sites affected by 2-D and 3-D site effects? A study based on single-station earthquake records and implications for ground motion modelling

Marco Pilz*, Fabrice Cotton, Chuanbin Zhu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


1-D site response analysis dominates earthquake engineering practice, while local 2-D/3-D models are often required at sites where the site response is complex. For such sites, the 1-D representation of the soil column can account neither for topographic effects or dipping layers nor for locally generated horizontally propagating surface waves. It then remains a crucial task to identify whether the site response can be modelled sufficiently precisely by 1-D analysis. In this study we develop a method to classify sites according to their 1-D or 2-D/3-D nature. This classification scheme is based on the analysis of surface earthquake recordings and the evaluation of the variability and similarity of the horizontal Fourier spectra. The taxonomy is focused on capturing significant directional dependencies and interevent variabilities indicating a more probable 2-D/3-D structure around the site causing the ground motion to be more variable. While no significant correlation of the 1-D/3-D site index with environmental parameters and site proxies seems to exist, a reduction in the within-site (single-station) variability is found. The reduction is largest (up to 20 per cent) for purely 1-D sites. Although the taxonomy system is developed using surface stations of the KiK-net network in Japan as considerable additional information is available, it can also be applied to any (non-downhole array) site.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1992–2004
Number of pages13
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Issue number3
Early online date1 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes

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