Strong ground motions recorded at 34 sites in the San Francisco Bay region from the Loma Prieta earthquake show marked variations in characteristics dependent on crustal structure and local geological conditions. Peak horizontal acceleration and velocity inferred for sites underlain by “rock” generally occur on the transverse component of motion. They are consistently greater with lower attenuation rates than the corresponding mean value predicted by empirical curves based on previous strong-motion data. Theoretical amplitude distributions and synthetic seismograms calculated for 10-layer models suggest that “bedrock” motions were elevated due in part to the wide-angle reflection of S energy from the base of a relatively thin (25 km) continental crust in the region. Characteristics of geologic and geotechnical units as currently mapped for the San Francisco Bay region show that average ratios of peak horizontal acceleration, velocity and displacement increase with decreasing mean shear-wave velocity. Ratios of peak acceleration for sites on “soil” (alluvium, fill/Bay mud) are statistically larger than those for sites on “hard rock” (sandstone, shale, Franciscan Complex). Spectral ratios establish the existence of predominant site periods with peak amplifications near 15 for potentially damaging levels of ground motion at some sites underlain by alluvium and fill/bay mud. Average spectral amplifications inferred for vertical and the mean horizontal motion are, respectively, (1,1) for sites on the Franciscan Complex (KJf), (1.4, 1.5) for sites on Mesozoic and Tertiary rocks (TMzs), (2.1, 2.0) for sites on the Santa Clara Formation (QTs), (2.3, 2.9) for sites on alluvium (Qal), and (2.1, 4.0) for sites on fill/Bay mud (Qaf/Qhbm). These mean values are not statistically different at the 5% significance level from those inferred from previous low-strain data. Analyses suggest that soil amplification and reflected crustal shear energy were major contributors to levels of ground motion sufficient to cause damage to vulnerable structures at distances near 100 km in the cities of San Francisco and Oakland.

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