Ground Motion Evaluation Procedures for Performance-Based Design, PEER Report 2001-09


The principal objective of the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center (PEER) is to develop a sound, scientific ba sis for performance-based earthquake engineering. The development of this methodology includes three vital steps:

  1. Evaluation of the distribution of ground motion intensity measures at a site, given certain seismological variables (i.e., fault characteristics, position of site relative to faults, etc.). Intensity measures may consist of traditional parameters such as spectral acceleration or duration, or newly defined parameters found to be useful for particular applications.
  2. Evaluation of the distribution of system response or damage measures, given a particular set of intensity measures. These parameters describe the performance of a structure in engineering terms, such as inter-story drift (e.g., for buildings), plastic hinge rotation (e.g., for bridge columns) or slope displacement (e.g., for harbor revetment slopes).
  3. Evaluation of the probability of exceeding decision variables within a given time period, given appropriate damage measures. Decision variables may include human or collateral loss, post-earthquake repair time, or other parameters of interest to an owner.

These three steps in the performance-based design methodology are linked through the theorem of total probability, and the outcome of the analysis is no better than the weakest (or most uncertain) link in the process. Accordingly, since its inception, PEER has recognized the vital role of high-quality ground motion characterization for performance-based design, and has developed and executed a plan for ground motion research that integrates the strengths of PEER researchers with those of experts in other organizations such as the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

The PEER ground motion research plan is best understood by first recognizing the various components of a ground motion analysis, which involves the broad subjects of source characterization, travel path effects on seismic waves, and site effects. PEER has to a large extent deferred to other organizations such as SCEC and the USGS on the issue of source characterization, as these organizations have the seismological expertise appropriate to the topic. iv The PEER ground motion research plan was developed with the objective of formulating a rational, scientifically-based set of procedures for the analysis of path and site effects. The majority of this work has been funded through the PEER Lifelines Program, but with specific, focused contributions from the Core Program as well.

Full List of PEER Reports: click here.

Jonathan P. Stewart
Shyh-Jeng Chiou
Jonathan D. Bray
Robert W. Graves
Paul G. Somerville
Norman A. Abrahamson
Publication date: 
September 1, 2001
Publication type: 
Technical Report
Stewart, J. P., Chiou, S., Bray, J. D., Graves , R. W., Somerville, P. G., & Abrahamson, N. A. ( 2001). Ground Motion Evaluation Procedures for Performance-Based Design, PEER Report 2001-09. Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center, University of California, Berkeley, CA.