We propose the use of the average spectra of northern strong-motion stations located at the hill zone (e.g., MD, TX, ES, 64) as the reference for Mexico City's ground motion. This virtual-site proposal is based on the analysis of recent data from the Mexico City Acelerometric Network. The northern stations show amplitudes, both in time and frequency, that are consistently smaller than those of hill-zone stations located south and west of the city (e.g., CU). It is well known that CU, the historical reference site in Mexico City, and other sites to the southwest, present amplifications, whereas the northern ones appear to be free of such effects. The spectral ratio of the averages of the stations located in the south and west with respect to the northern stations shows a relatively constant amplification of up to 3 times in the 0.7-10.0-Hz-frequency band. This amplification is a very unusual feature that should be explained. The geologic conditions at the hill zone show that older, Miocene-age deposits are located north of the city. Considering that northern sites represent the basement, we assume that the configuration along the hill zone in the N-S direction can be approximated by a simple, dipping, homogeneous layer. We computed the antiplane seismic response for this model and averaged and compared it with the spectral ratio obtained from strong ground motion data. The agreement is good and suggests how a smooth, large-scale feature could amplify seismic ground motion in a broad frequency band.

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