A simple plane wave model is adequate to explain many surface versus borehole seismometer data sets. Using such a model, we present a series of examples which demonstrate the effects of the free-surface, near-surface velocity gradients, and low impedance surface layers on the amplitudes of upcoming body waves. In some cases, these amplitudes are predictable from simple free-surface and impedance contrast expressions. However, in other cases these expressions are an unreliable guide to the complete response, and the full plane wave calculation must be performed. Large surface amplifications are possible, even without focusing due to lateral heterogeneities or nonlinear effects. Both surface and borehole seismometer site responses are almost always frequency-dependent.
Ocean bottom versus borehole seismic data from the 1983 Ngendei Seismic Experiment in the southwest Pacific are consistent with both a simple plane wave model and a more complete synthetic seismogram calculation. The borehole seismic response to upcoming P waves is reduced at high frequencies because of interference between the upgoing P wave and downgoing P and SV waves reflected from the sediment-basement interface. However, because of much lower borehole noise levels, the borehole seismometer enjoys a P-wave signal-to-noise advantage of 3 to 7 dB over nearby ocean bottom instruments.