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In 2004 and 2005 the Puerto Rico Seismic Network (PRSN), Puerto Rico Strong Motion Program (PRSMP) and the Geology Department at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez (UPRM) collaborated with the U.S. Geological Survey to study near-surface shear-wave (Vs) and compressional-wave (Vp) velocities in and around major urban areas of Puerto Rico. Using noninvasive seismic refraction-reflection profiling techniques, we acquired velocities at 27 locations. Surveyed sites were predominantly selected on the premise that they were generally representative of near-surface materials associated with the primary geologic units located within the urbanized areas of Puerto Rico. Geologic units surveyed included Cretaceous intrusive and volcaniclastic bedrock, Tertiary sedimentary and volcanic units, and Quaternary unconsolidated eolian, fluvial, beach, and lagoon deposits. From the data we developed Vs and Vp depth versus velocity columns, calculated average Vs to 30-m depth (VS30), and derived NEHRP (National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program) site classifications for all sites except one where results did not reach 30-m depth. The distribution of estimated NEHRP classes is as follows: three class 'E' (VS30 below 180 m/s), nine class 'D' (VS30 between 180 and 360 m/s), ten class 'C' (VS30 between 360 and 760 m/s), and four class 'B' (VS30 greater than 760 m/s). Results are being used to calibrate site response at seismograph stations and in the development of regional and local shakemap models for Puerto Rico.
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Near-Surface Shear Wave Velocity Versus Depth Profiles, VS30, and NEHRP Classifications for 27 Sites in Puerto Rico