A frequency-domain parametric study using generalized consistent transmitting boundaries has been performed to evaluate the significance of topographic effects on the seismic response of steep slopes. The results show that the peak amplification of motion at the crest of a slope occurs at a normalized frequency H/λ = 0.2, where H is the slope height and λ is the wavelength of the motion. The importance of the natural site frequency is illustrated by the analysis of a stepped layer over a half-space. It was found that the natural frequency of the region behind the crest can dominate the response, relative to the topographic effect, for the conditions studied. Moreover, the effect of topography can be handled separately from the amplification due to the natural frequency of the deposit behind the crest of the slope. This concept of separating the amplification caused by topography from that caused by the natural frequency is advantageous to the development of a simplified method to estimate topographic effects.

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