Peak vertical accelerations from a suite of 585 strong ground motion records from 76 worldwide earthquakes are fit to an attenuation model that has a magnitude dependent shape. The regression uses a two-step procedure that is a hybrid of the Joyner and Boore (1981) and Campbell (1981) regression methods. The resulting vertical attenuation relation is


where M is magnitude, r is the distance in kilometers to the closest approach of the zone of energy release, F is a dummy variable that is 1 for reverse or reverse oblique events and 0 otherwise, and E is a dummy variable that is 1 for interplate events and 0 for intraplate events. The standard error of log10av is 0.296.

Because the vertical to horizontal acceleration ratio is also sought, the attenuation of the horizontal peaks from the same suite of records is also obtained using the same regression procedure. The resulting horizontal attenuation relation is


where aH is the peak acceleration of the larger of the two horizontal components. The standard error of log10aH is 0.277.

The expected ratio of peak vertical to peak horizontal strong ground motion predicted by these equations is enveloped by the widely used rule-of-thrumb value of two-thirds for earthquakes with magnitudes less than 7.0 and distances greater than 20 km. The expected ratio exceeds 1.0 for earthquakes with magnitudes greater than 8.0 at very short distances. The standard error of log10(V/H) is 0.20, which is less than the standard error of either the vertical or horizontal acceleration. Therefore, the peak vertical and horizontal accelerations for a given record are strongly correlated and we can have more confidence in the predicted ratio than in either the predicted vertical or horizontal peaks.

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