In the near-field of an earthquake the effects of the rotational components of ground motion may not be negligible compared to the effects of translational motions. Analyses of the equations of motion of horizontal and vertical pendulums show that horizontal sensors are sensitive not only to translational motion but also to tilts. Ignoring this tilt sensitivity may produce unreliable results, especially in calculations of permanent displacements and long-period calculations. In contrast to horizontal sensors, vertical sensors do not have these limitations, since they are less sensitive to tilts. In general, only six-component systems measuring rotations and accelerations, or three-component systems similar to systems used in inertial navigation assuring purely translational motion of accelerometers can be used to calculate residual displacements. ?? 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.