Impact of input ground motions and site variability on seismic site response
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Seismic site response analysis allows an engineer to assess the effect of local soil conditions on the ground motions expected during an earthquake. In seismic site response analysis, an input ground motion on rock is propagated through a site specific soil column. The computed response at the surface is dependent on both the input ground motion and the soil properties that characterize the site. However, there is uncertainty in both the input ground motion and the soil properties, as well as natural variability in the soil properties across a site. To account for the uncertainty in the input ground motions, engineers use a suite of motions that are selected and scaled to fit a scenario input motion. This study introduces a semi-automated method to select and scale the input motions to fit a target input motion and its variability. The proposed method is intended to replace tedious trials of combinations by hand with combinations performed by a computer. However, as in the traditional selection methods, the final selection of the combination is done by the engineer.The effect of the selected ground motion combination on the computed surface response spectrum from the site response analysis, and its variability, was investigated in this study. The results show by using a combination with as few as five motions, the median surface response spectrum can be predicted with an error of 10%. Additionally, the manner used to scale the input motions does not impact the accuracy of the median surface response spectrum, as long as the median response spectrum of the input combination agrees with the target input response spectrum. However, if the standard deviation of the surface response spectrum is to be considered (e.g., to develop median plus one standard deviation spectra), a input combination of at least 20 motions is recommended and the combination must be scaled such that the standard deviation of the input combination matches the standard deviation of the input target spectrum. Monte Carlo simulations were used to assess the impact of soil property variability on surface spectra computed by seismic site response. The results from this study indicate that by accounting for the variability of the shear-wave velocity profile of a site can cause a significant decrease in the median surface response spectrum, as well as a slight increase in the standard deviation of the surface response spectrum at periods less than the site period. By considering the variability of the nonlinear properties (shear modulus reduction and damping ratio) the median response spectrum decreased only slightly, but the standard deviation increased in a manner similar to the increase observed when considering the variability of the shear-wave velocity profile. Simultaneously considering the variability of the shear-wave velocity profile and nonlinear properties resulted in a median surface response spectrumsimilar to the median surface response spectrumcomputed with considering the variability of the shear-wave velocity alone. However, the standard deviation of the surface response spectrum was larger than the standard deviation computed by independent consideration of the variability of the shear-wave velocity or nonlinear properties.