Aftershock records of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake are used to calculate site response in the frequency band of 0.5-10 Hz at 24 locations in Los Gatos, California, on the edge of the Santa Clara Valley. Two different methods are used: spectral ratios relative to a reference site on rock and a source/site spectral inversion method. These two methods complement each other and give consistent results. Site amplification factors are compared with surficial geology, thickness of alluvium, shallow shear-wave velocity measurements, and ground deformation and structural damage resulting from the Loma Prieta earthquake. Higher values of site amplification are seen on Quaternary alluvium compared with older Miocene and Cretaceous units of Monterey and Franciscan Formation. However, other more detailed correlations with surficial geology are not evident. A complex pattern of alluvial sediment thickness, caused by crosscutting thrust faults, is interpreted as contributing to the variability in site response and the presence of spectral resonance peaks between 2 and 7 Hz at some sites. Within the range of our field measurements, there is a correlation between lower average shear-wave velocity of the top 30 m and 50% higher values of site amplification. An area of residential homes thrown from their foundations correlates with high site response. This damage may also have been aggravated by local ground deformation. Severe damage to commercial buildings in the business district, however, is attributed to poor masonry construction.
Additional Publication Details
Site response, shallow shear-wave velocity, and damage in Los Gatos, California, from the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake