We deployed portable digital seismographs in the San Fernando Valley (SFV), the Los Angeles basin (LAB), and surrounding hills to record aftershocks of the 17 January 1994 Northridge California earthquake. The purpose of the deployment was to investigate factors relevant to seismic zonation in urban areas, such as site amplification, sedimentary basin effects, and the variability of ground motion over short baselines. We placed seismographs at 47 sites (not all concurrently) and recorded about 290 earthquakes with magnitudes up to 5.1 at five stations or more. We deployed widely spaced stations for profiles across the San Fernando Valley, as well as five dense arrays (apertures of 200 to 500 m) in areas of high damage, such as the collapsed Interstate 10 overpass, Sherman Oaks, and the collapsed parking garage at CalState Northridge. Aftershock data analysis indicates a correlation of site amplification with mainshock damage. We found several cases where the site amplification depended on the azimuth of the aftershock, possibly indicating focusing from basin structures. For the parking garage array, we found large ground-motion variabilities (a factor of 2) over 200-m distances for sites on the same mapped soil unit. Array analysis of the aftershock seismograms demonstrates that sizable arrivals after the direct 5 waves consist of surface waves traveling from the same azimuth as that of the epicenter. These surface waves increase the duration of motions and can have frequencies as high as about 4 Hz. For the events studied here, we do not observe large arrivals reflected from the southern edge of the San Fernando Valley.
Additional publication details
Urban seismology - Northridge aftershocks recorded by multi-scale arrays of portable digital seismographs