A frequency-domain formulation of the Aki (1957, 1965) autocorrelation method has been applied to seismic noise recorded by a 100-m wide circular array deployed on soft Holocene sediments in the Garigliano river valley, where a large amplification of ground motion during earthquakes was experienced (Rovelli et al., 1988). The application of this method to ambient noise recordings demonstrates that microtremors in the valley are dispersive and dominated by surface waves. By assuming that the vertical component reflects Rayleigh wave motion, we obtain a dispersion curve that is interpreted in terms of a layered shear-wave velocity structure. Layer thicknesses are constrained by the stratigraphic information provided by a deep hole drilled in the area, and shear velocities are estimated by means of a trial-and-error approach to achieve a satisfactory fit of the ambient noise dispersion. The best-fit velocity model is used to compute a theoretical transfer function, which is then compared with an average spectral ratio obtained from earthquake weak ground motions recorded at two stations, one in the valley and the other on a limestone reference site. An overall agreement is found between the theoretical curve and the observed spectral ratios. The discrepancies that do exist may be ascribed to the assumption of 1-D inhomogeneity which considerably simplifies the theoretical transfer function.
Our results show that the spatial-correlation method can be useful to infer velocity structure down to depths of hundreds of meters, when generalized geological informations are available, and can thus provide useful constraints for theoretical methodologies for the prediction of site response.