A set of time-synchronized strong-motion accelerograms, obtained on the San Juan Bautista 156/101 Separation Bridge in California during the 6 August 1979 Coyote Lake earthquake (ML = 5.9), are used to study the spatial variation of ground motion at the bridge site, including traveling wave effects and the influence of multiple-support excitation. Analysis of the ground motion recorded at the base of two of the bridge supports (32.6 m apart) revealed the presence of a differential support excitation having a period of ≈ 3 sec, much longer than any structural periods of the bridge. This signal also appeared as a noticeable long-period component in the superstructure displacements. Analysis of the vertical and radial components of the 3-sec ground motion indicated that ground displacements were retrograde for the duration of strong shaking, with several cycles exhibiting elliptical particle motions. These findings suggest that long-period differential support motions were induced by phase delays in a Rayleigh wave traveling across the bridge site. Further support to this premise is given by the location of the bridge site near a maxima of the Rayleigh wave radiation pattern for the Coyote Lake earthquake (based on published focal mechanism data). Traveling wave effects were also detected for compressional body waves by a correlation analysis which indicated a time delay of ≈ 7 msec between P-wave arrivals at two of the bridge supports.

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