Ground motions recorded within sedimentary basins are variable over short distances. One important cause of the variability is that local soil properties are variable at all scales. Regional hazard maps developed for predicting site effects are generally derived from maps of surficial geology; however, recent studies have shown that mapped geologic units do not correlate well with the average shear-wave velocity of the upper 30 m, Vs(30). We model the horizontal variability of near-surface soil shear-wave velocity in the San Francisco Bay Area to estimate values in unsampled locations in order to account for site effects in a continuous manner. Previous geostatistical studies of soil properties have shown horizontal correlations at the scale of meters to tens of meters while the vertical correlations are on the order of centimeters. In this paper we analyze shear-wave velocity data over regional distances and find that surface shear-wave velocity is correlated at horizontal distances up to 4 km based on data from seismic cone penetration tests and the spectral analysis of surface waves. We propose a method to map site effects by using geostatistical methods based on the shear-wave velocity correlation structure within a sedimentary basin. If used in conjunction with densely spaced shear-wave velocity profiles in regions of high seismic risk, geostatistical methods can produce reliable continuous maps of site effects. ?? 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.