The observed ground motions from five large aftershocks of the 1999 Chi-Chi, Taiwan, earthquake are compared with predictions from four equations based primarily on data from California. The four equations for active tectonic regions are those developed by Abrahamson and Silva (1997), Boore et al. (1997), Campbell (1997, 2001), and Sadigh et al. (1997). Comparisons are made for horizontal-component peak ground accelerations and 5%-damped pseudoacceleration response spectra at periods between 0.02 sec and 5 sec. The observed motions are in reasonable agreement with the predictions, particularly for distances from 10 to 30 km. This is in marked contrast to the motions from the Chi-Chi mainshock, which are much lower than the predicted motions for periods less than about 1 sec. The results indicate that the low motions in the mainshock are not due to unusual, localized absorption of seismic energy, because waves from the mainshock and the aftershocks generally traverse the same section of the crust and are recorded at the same stations. The aftershock motions at distances of 30–60 km are somewhat lower than the predictions (but not nearly by as small a factor as those for the mainshock), suggesting that the ground motion attenuates more rapidly in this region of Taiwan than it does in the areas we compare with it. We provide equations for the regional attenuation of response spectra, which show increasing decay of motion with distance for decreasing oscillator periods. This observational study also demonstrates that ground motions have large earthquake-location-dependent variability for a specific site. This variability reduces the accuracy with which an earthquake-specific prediction of site response can be predicted.

Online Material: PGAs and PSAs from the 1999 Chi-Chi earthquake and five aftershocks.

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