Recordings of the 1999 Mw 7.6 Chi-Chi (Taiwan) earthquake, two local earthquakes, and five blasts show seismic-wave amplification over a large sedimentary basin in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. For weak ground motions from the Chi-Chi earthquake, the Seattle basin amplified 0.2- to 0.8-Hz waves by factors of 8 to 16 relative to bedrock sites west of the basin. The amplification and peak frequency change during the Chi-Chi coda: the initial S-wave arrivals (0–30 sec) had maximum amplifications of 12 at 0.5–0.8 Hz, whereas later arrivals (35–65 sec) reached amplifications of 16 at 0.3–0.5 Hz. Analysis of local events in the 1.0- to 10.0-Hz frequency range show fourfold amplifications for 1.0-Hz weak ground motion over the Seattle basin. Amplifications decrease as frequencies increase above 1.0 Hz, with frequencies above 7 Hz showing lower amplitudes over the basin than at bedrock sites. Modeling shows that resonance in low-impedance deposits forming the upper 550 m of the basin beneath our profile could cause most of the observed amplification, and the larger amplification at later arrival times suggests surface waves also play a substantial role. These results emphasize the importance of shallow deposits in determining ground motions over large basins.

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