Funded by the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), we conducted geophysical site characterizations at 191 strong-motion stations: 187 in California and 4 in the Central-Eastern United States (CEUS). The geophysical methods used at each site included passive and active surface-wave and body-wave techniques. Multiple techniques were used at most sites, with the goal of robustly determining VS (shear-wave velocity) profiles and VS30 (the time-averaged shear-wave velocity in the upper 30 meters depth). These techniques included: horizontal-to-vertical spectral ratio (HVSR), two-dimensional (2-D) array microtremor (AM), refraction microtremor (ReMi™), spectral analysis of surface wave (SASW), multi-channel analysis of surface waves (Rayleigh wave: MASRW; and Love wave: MASLW), and compressional- and shear-wave refraction. Of the selected sites, 47 percent have crystalline, volcanic, or sedimentary rock at the surface or at relatively shallow depth, and 53 percent are of Quaternary sediments located in either rural or urban environments. Calculated values of VS30 span almost the full range of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) Site Classes, from D (stiff soils) to B (rock). The NEHRP Site Classes based on VS30 range from being consistent with the Class expected from analysis of surficial geology, to being one or two Site Classes below expected. In a few cases where differences between the observed and expected Site Class occurred, it was the consequence of inaccurate or coarse geologic mapping, as well as considerable degradation of the near-surface rock. Additionally, several sites mapped as rock have Site Class D (stiff soil) velocities, which is due to the extensive weathering of the surficial rock.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
ARRA-funded VS30 measurements using multi-technique approach at strong-motion stations in California and central-eastern United States
U.S. Geological Survey
California Field Office Earthquake Science Center
Report: iv, 58 p., appendix; Appendix A: 2610 p.; Data repository folder