The effect of inclined shear waves on the seismic response of a steep bluff is analyzed using generalized consistent transmitting boundaries. The results of the frequency-domain analysis of a stepped half-space subjected to incident shear waves inclined from 0° to 30° show that the motion at the crest of the slope is amplified for waves traveling into the slope and attenuated for waves traveling away from the slope, as compared to the motion in the free field behind the crest of the slope. This amplification can be as much as twice that observed for vertically propagating waves. A time-domain analysis of bluffs at Seacliff State Beach, California, is used to estimate the effect of topography using realistic conditions, taking into account wave inclination and site effects. The analysis of the site shows that although topographic amplification does in fact nearly double the amplitude of the motion in some cases, this amplification is offset by reduced site amplification and by wave splitting at material interfaces. Thus, the actual peak acceleration occurring at the crest of the slope changes little with incident angle as compared to the amplification of the free-field motion and actually decreases in many cases. Though a more general study is recommended, these results suggest that wave orientation and inclination substantially increase topographic amplification; however, it may be adequate to only account for vertically propagating waves for site response and slope stability analyses where only the magnitude of acceleration is considered.

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