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Journal Articles Bulletin of Earthquake Engineering Year : 2008

Empirical evaluation of microtremor H/V spectral ratio


The objective of this work is to perform a purely empirical assessment of the actual capabilities of the horizontal-to-vertical (H/V) spectral ratio technique to provide reliable and relevant information concerning site conditions and/or site amplification. This objective has been tackled through the homogeneous (re)processing of a large volume of earthquakes and ambient noise data recorded by different research teams in more than 200 sites located mainly in Europe, but also in the Caribbean and in Tehran. The original recordings were first gathered in a specific database with information on both the sites and recorded events. Then, for all sites close to an instrumented reference, average site-to-reference spectral ratios (“spectral ratio method” (SSR)) were derived in a homogeneous way (window selection, smoothing, signal-to-noise ratio threshold, averaging), as well as H/V ratios (“HVSRE–RF”) on earthquake recordings. H/V ratios were also obtained from noise recordings at each site (either specific measurements, or extracted from pre- or post-event noise windows). The spectral curves resulting from these three techniques were estimated reliable for a subset of 104 sites, and were thus compared in terms of fundamental frequency, amplitude and amplification bandwidth, exhibiting agreements and disagreements, for which interpretations are looked for in relation with characteristics of site conditions. The first important result consists in the very good agreement between fundamental frequencies obtained with either technique, observed for 81% of the analyzed sites. A significant part of the disagreements correspond to thick, low frequency, continental sites where natural noise level is often very low and H/V noise ratios do not exhibit any clear peak. The second important result is the absence of correlation between H/V peak amplitude and the actual site amplification measured on site-to-reference spectral ratios. There are, however, two statistically significant results about the amplitude of the H/V curve: the peak amplitude may be considered as a lower bound estimate of the actual amplification indicated by SSR (it is smaller for 79% of the 104 investigated sites), and, from another point of view, the difference in amplitude exhibits a questioning correlation with the geometrical characteristics of the sediment/basement interface: large SSR/HV differences might thus help to detect the existence of significant 2D or 3D effects.

Dates and versions

insu-00334505 , version 1 (27-10-2008)



E. Haghshenas, Pierre-Yves Bard, N. Theodulidis. Empirical evaluation of microtremor H/V spectral ratio. Bulletin of Earthquake Engineering, 2008, 6 (1), pp.75 à 108. ⟨10.1007/s10518-007-9058-x⟩. ⟨insu-00334505⟩
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