Issues related to site property variability and shear strength in site response analysis
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Nonlinear site response analyses are generally preferred over equivalent linear analyses for soft soil sites subjected to high-intensity input ground motions. However, both nonlinear and equivalent linear analyses often result in large induced shear strains (3-10%) at soft sites, and these large strains may generate unusual characteristics in the predicted surface ground motions. One source of the overestimated shear strains may be attributed to unrealistically low shear strengths implied by commonly used modulus reduction curves. Therefore, modulus reduction and damping curves can be modified at shear strains greater than 0.1% to provide a more realistic soil model for site response. However, even after these modifications, nonlinear and equivalent linear site response analyses still may generate unusual surface acceleration time histories and Fourier amplitude spectra at soft soil sites when subjected to high-intensity input ground motions. As part of this work, equivalent linear and nonlinear 1D site response analyses for the well-known Treasure Island site demonstrate the challenges associated with accurately modeling large shear strains, and subsequent surface response, at soft soil sites. Accounting for the uncertainties associated with the shear wave velocity profile is an important part of a properly executed site response analyses. Surface wave data from Grenoble, France and Mirandola, Italy have been used to determine shear wave velocity (Vs) profiles from inversion of surface wave data. Furthermore, Vs profiles from inversion have been used to determine boundary, median and statistically-based randomly generated profiles. The theoretical dispersion curves from the inversion analyses as well as the boundary, median and randomly generated Vs profiles are compared with experimentally measured surface wave data. It is found that the median theoretical dispersion curve provides a satisfactory fit to the experimental data, but the boundary type theoretical dispersion curves do not. Randomly generated profiles result in some theoretical dispersion curves that fit the experimental data, and many that do not. Site response analyses revealed that the greater variability in the response spectra and amplification factors were determined from the randomly generated Vs profiles than the inversion or boundary Vs profiles.