In the framework of the renewal project of the Swiss Strong Motion Network (SSMNet), a procedure for site characterization has been established. The aim of the procedure was to systematically derive realistic 1D velocity profiles at each station. It is mainly based on the analysis of surface waves, particularly from passive experiments, and includes cross checks of the derived amplification functions with those obtained through spectral modeling of recorded earthquakes. The systematic use of three component surface‐wave analysis, allowing the derivation of both Rayleigh and Love dispersion curves, also contributes to the improvement of the quality of the retrieved profiles.
The procedure is applied to the 30 SSMNet stations installed on various site types within the project, covering different aspects of seismic risk. The characterization of these 30 sites gives an overview of the variety of possible effects of surface geology on ground motion in the Alpine area. Such effects ranged from deamplification at hard‐rock sites to amplification up to a factor of 15 in lacustrine sediments with respect to the Swiss reference rock velocity model. The derived velocity profiles are shown to reproduce observed amplification functions from empirical spectral modeling. Although many sites are found to exhibit 1D behavior, the procedure allows the detection and qualification of 2D and 3D effects. The sites are therefore classified with respect to the occurrence of 2D/3D resonance and edge‐generated surface waves. In addition to the large and deeply incised alpine valleys of the Rhône, the Rhine, and the Aar, smaller structures such as local alpine valleys and alluvial fans are shown to exhibit 2D/3D behavior.