Most instruments used in seismological practice to record ground motion are pendulum seismographs, velocigraphs, or accelerographs. In most cases it is assumed that seismic instruments are only sensitive to the translational motion of the instrument’s base. In this study the full equation of pendulum motion, including the inputs of rotations and tilts, is considered. It is shown that tilting the accelerograph’s base can severely impact its response to the ground motion. The method of tilt evaluation using uncorrected strong-motion accelerograms was first suggested by Graizer (1989), and later tested in several laboratory experiments with different strong-motion instruments. The method is based on the difference in the tilt sensitivity of the horizontal and vertical pendulums. The method was applied to many of the strongest records of the Mw 6.7 Northridge earthquake of 1994. Examples are shown when relatively large tilts of up to a few degrees occurred during strong earthquake ground motion. Residual tilt extracted from the strong-motion record at the Pacoima Dam–Upper Left Abutment reached 3.1° in N45°E direction, and was a result of local earthquake-induced tilting due to high-amplitude shaking. This value is in agreement with the residual tilt measured by using electronic level a few days after the earthquake. The method was applied to the building records from the Northridge earthquake. According to the estimates, residual tilt reached 2.6° on the ground floor of the 12-story Hotel in Ventura. Processing of most of the strongest records of the Northridge earthquake shows that tilts, if happened, were within the error of the method, or less than about 0.5°.

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