Most digital accelerograph recordings are plagued by long-period drifts, best seen in the velocity and displacement time series obtained from integration of the acceleration time series. These drifts often result in velocity values that are nonzero near the end of the record. This is clearly unphysical and can lead to inaccurate estimates of peak ground displacement and long-period spectral response. The source of the long-period noise seems to be variations in the acceleration baseline in many cases. These variations could be due to true ground motion (tilting and rotation, as well as local permanent ground deformation), instrumental effects, or analog-to-digital conversion. Very often the trends in velocity are well approximated by a linear trend after the strong shaking subsides. The linearity of the trend in velocity implies that no variations in the baseline could have occurred after the onset of linearity in the velocity time series. This observation, combined with the lack of any trends in the pre-event motion, allows us to compute the time interval in which any baseline variations could occur. We then use several models of the variations in a Monte Carlo procedure to derive a suite of baseline-corrected accelerations for each noise model using records from the 1999 Chi-Chi earthquake and several earthquakes in Turkey. Comparisons of the mean values of the peak ground displacements, spectral displacements, and residual displacements computed from these corrected accelerations for the different noise models can be used as a guide to the accuracy of the baseline corrections. For many of the records considered here the mean values are similar for each noise model, giving confidence in the estimation of the mean values. The dispersion of the ground-motion measures increases with period and is noise-model dependent. The dispersion of inelastic spectra is greater than the elastic spectra at short periods but approaches that of the elastic spectra at longer periods. The elastic spectra from the most basic processing, in which only the pre-event mean is removed from the acceleration time series, do not diverge from the baseline-corrected spectra until periods of 10-20 sec or more for the records studied here, implying that for many engineering purposes elastic spectra can be used from records with no baseline correction or filtering.
Additional publication details
On baseline corrections and uncertainty in response spectra for baseline variations commonly encountered in digital accelerograph records