We propose a site‐classification scheme based on the predominant period of the site, as determined from the average horizontal‐to‐vertical (H/V) spectral ratios of ground motion. Our scheme extends Zhao et al. (2006) classifications by adding two classes, the most important of which is defined by flat H/V ratios with amplitudes less than 2. The proposed classification is investigated by using 5%‐damped response spectra from Italian earthquake records. We select a dataset of 602 three‐component analog and digital recordings from 120 earthquakes recorded at 214 seismic stations within a hypocentral distance of 200 km. Selected events are in the moment‐magnitude range 4.0≤Mw≤6.8 and focal depths from a few kilometers to 46 km. We computed H/V ratios for these data and used them to classify each site into one of six classes. We then investigate the impact of this classification scheme on empirical ground‐motion prediction equations (GMPEs) by comparing its performance with that of the conventional rock/soil classification. Although the adopted approach results in only a small reduction of the overall standard deviation, the use of H/V spectral ratios in site classification does capture the signature of sites with flat frequency‐response, as well as deep and shallow‐soil profiles, characterized by long‐ and short‐period resonance, respectively; in addition, the classification scheme is relatively quick and inexpensive, which is an advantage over schemes based on measurements of shear‐wave velocity.

Online Material: Tables of parameters defining the ground motion prediction equations, and figures of H/V spectral ratios, intraevent residuals, and spectral amplitudes.

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