Studies on landslides by the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake showed that the topography is of great importance in amplifying the seismic shaking. The present study carried out experiments on rock slopes by means of a shaking table. The recorded Wenchuan earthquake waves are scaled to excite the model slopes. Measurements from accelerometers installed on free surface of the model slope simulating high‐strength rocks are analyzed, with much effort on acceleration responses to both horizontal and vertical components of seismic shaking. It is found that the amplification factor of peak horizontal acceleration (PHA) is increasing with elevation of the model slope, though the upper and lower halves of the slope exhibit different increasing patterns. The amplification factor of peak vertical acceleration (PVA) exhibits a lying S‐shaped changing trend with the elevation, indicating attenuations of PVAs at the toe and top of a slope. In addition, the XZ‐direction shaking produces a horizontal and vertical response stronger than X‐direction and Z‐direction shaking alone. Both PHA and PVA increase with the excitation intensity. However, the corresponding amplification factors generally decrease, indicating the acceleration response of a slope weakens with the excitation intensity of shaking. Finally the statistic of ratio of PVA to PHA indicates that 85% of the slope height, especially the upper middle part, is likely subject to PVAs greater than or equal to 2/3 of PHA and 32% of the slope height to PVAs greater than or equal to PHA. This indicates the nonignorable role of PVA in responses of a slope to an earthquake and necessity of considering during design work.

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