Abstract

Seismic surface wave methods are effective tools for estimating S-wave velocity in urban areas for near-surface site characterization and geologic hazard assessment. A surface wave survey can provide quantitative site-specific measurement of physical properties needed for the design of earthquake-resistant structures. We successfully used a combined active and passive seismic surface wave method to estimate the S-wave velocity in the upper 30 m at sites with a range of geologic conditions. At five of the six sites, multichannel analysis of surface waves (MASW) and microtremor array method (MAM) methods were used. The MAM method could not be used at one site due to insufficient ambient noise. Data from the active method (MASW) contained higher frequencies that contributed to higher resolution of the near-surface zone, whereas passive data (MAM) contained lower frequencies that provided deeper penetration. Phase velocities from the two methods were in good agreement in the frequency range where they overlapped. Surface wave dispersion curves from the two methods were used to prepare an initial velocity model, and a nonlinear inversion was performed to obtain an improved velocity-depth profile. The use of a multimethod data set provided greater confidence in velocity measurements. The six sites of this study may be classified as belonging to two main groups based on S-wave velocities and geologic materials. Two sites are located in the East Bay Hills on Mesozoic bedrock, and four sites are located on Holocene sedimentary units. The highest VS30 was 425  m/s (class C), at a site with fractured and weathered bedrock exposed in a geotechnical trench at 1–2 m depth. The four sites on Holocene sedimentary units have VS30 values ranging from 207 to 281  m/s (class D).

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