Abstract

The populace of Los Angeles, California, was startled by shaking from the M 7.1 earthquake that struck the city of Ridgecrest located 200 km to the north on 6 July 2019. Although the earthquake did not cause damage in Los Angeles, the experience in high‐rise buildings was frightening in contrast to the shaking felt in short buildings. Observations from 560 ground‐level accelerometers reveal large variations in shaking in the Los Angeles basin that occurred for more than 2 min. The observations come from the spatially dense Community Seismic Network (CSN), combined with the sparser Southern California Seismic Network and California Strong Motion Instrumentation Program networks. Site amplification factors for periods of 1, 3, 6, and 8 s are computed as the ratio of each station’s response spectral values combined for the two horizontal directions, relative to the average of three bedrock sites. Spatially coherent behavior in site amplification emerges for periods 3  s, and the maximum calculated site amplifications are the largest, by factors of 7, 10, and 8, respectively, for 3, 6, and 8 s periods. The dense CSN observations show that the long‐period amplification is clearly, but only partially, correlated with the depth to basement. Sites with the largest amplifications for the long periods (3  s) are not close to the deepest portion of the basin. At 6 and 8 s periods, the maximum amplifications occur in the western part of the Los Angeles basin and in the south‐central San Fernando Valley sedimentary basin. The observations suggest that the excitation of a hypothetical high‐rise located in an area characterized by the largest site amplifications could be four times larger than in a downtown Los Angeles location.

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