Site-response coefficients, Fa and Fv, used in U.S. building code provisions are based on empirical data for motions up to 0.1 g. For larger motions they are based on theoretical and laboratory results. The Northridge earthquake of 17 January 1994 provided a significant new set of empirical data up to 0.5 g. These data together with recent site characterizations based on shear-wave velocity measurements provide empirical estimates of the site coefficients at base accelerations up to 0.5 g for Site Classes C and D. These empirical estimates of Fa and Fnu; as well as their decrease with increasing base acceleration level are consistent at the 95 percent confidence level with those in present building code provisions, with the exception of estimates for Fa at levels of 0.1 and 0.2 g, which are less than the lower confidence bound by amounts up to 13 percent. The site-coefficient estimates are consistent at the 95 percent confidence level with those of several other investigators for base accelerations greater than 0.3 g. These consistencies and present code procedures indicate that changes in the site coefficients are not warranted. Empirical results for base accelerations greater than 0.2 g confirm the need for both a short- and a mid- or long-period site coefficient to characterize site response for purposes of estimating site-specific design spectra.
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Empirical evidence for site coefficients in building code provisions