Forced harmonic and impulse-response vibration tests were conducted at several California accelerograph stations operated by the California Division of Mines and Geology (CDMG) and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to determine the extent to which soil-structure interaction may be affecting the recorded ground motions. The results of the tests on the foundations comprising USGS Station 6 in the Imperial Valley and CDMG Cholame 1E and Fault Zone 3 stations in the Cholame Valley indicated the presence of highly damped fundamental frequencies between 20 and 40 Hz. However, at the much larger Differential Array station, a masonry-block structure approximately 6 km southwest of Station 6, a moderately damped fundamental frequency of 12 Hz was observed.
Approximate transfer functions between earthquake motions recorded at the stations and the free-field motions were computed from the response data obtained from the forced harmonic vibration tests. For the three smaller stations, these functions showed peak amplification factors ranging from 1.25 to 1.4 at frequencies between 20 and 40 Hz. The amplification at smaller frequencies was insignificant. For the Differential Array station, the amplification factor was 1.5 at 12 Hz and was roughly 0.6 for frequencies between 14 and 25 Hz. These results suggest that soil-structure interaction will have little effect on ground motions recorded at the smaller stations provided that most of the energy in these motions is confined to frequencies less than approximately 20 Hz. However, at the Differential Array station, soil-structure interaction probably has had, and will continue to have, a significant influence on the motions recorded at this station.