Stochastic Modeling and Simulation of Near-Fault Ground Motions for Performance-Based Earthquake Engineering, PEER Report 2014-20


A comprehensive parameterized stochastic model of near-fault ground motions in two orthogonal horizontal directions is developed. The proposed model uniquely combines several existing and new sub-models to represent major characteristics of recorded near-fault ground motions. These characteristics include near-fault effects of directivity and fling step; temporal and spectral non-stationarity; intensity, duration and frequency content characteristics; directionality of components, as well as the natural variability of motions for a given earthquake and site scenario. By fitting the model to a database of recorded near-fault ground motions with known earthquake source and site characteristics, empirical “observations” of the model parameters are obtained. These observations are used to develop predictive equations for the model parameters in terms of a small number of earthquake source and site characteristics. Functional forms for the predictive equations that are consistent with seismological theory are employed.

A site-based simulation procedure that employs the proposed stochastic model and predictive equations is developed to generate synthetic near-fault ground motions at a site. The procedure is formulated in terms of information about the earthquake design scenario that is normally available to a design engineer. Not all near-fault ground motions contain a forward directivity pulse, even when the conditions for such a pulse are favorable. The proposed procedure produces pulse-like and non-pulse-like motions in the same proportions as they naturally occur among recorded near-fault ground motions for a given design scenario.

The proposed models and simulation procedure are validated by several means. Synthetic ground motion time series with fitted parameter values are compared with the corresponding recorded motions. The proposed empirical predictive relations are compared to similar relations available in the literature. The overall simulation procedure is validated by comparing suites of synthetic ground motions generated for given earthquake source and site characteristics to the ground motion prediction equations developed as part of phase 2 of the Next Generation Attenuation (NGA) program, (NGA-West2, see, e.g., Campbell and Bozorgnia, [2014]). Comparison is made in terms of the estimated median level and variability of elastic ground motion response spectra.

The use of synthetic motions in addition to or in place of recorded motions is desirable in performance-based earthquake engineering applications, particularly when recorded motions are scarce or when they are unavailable for a specified design scenario. As a demonstrative application, synthetic motions from the proposed simulation procedure are used to perform probabilistic seismic hazard analysis for a near-fault site. The analysis shows that the hazard at a near-fault site is underestimated when the ground motion model used does not properly account for the possibility of pulse-like motions due to the directivity effect.

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Mayssa Dabaghi
Armen Der Kiureghian
Publication date: 
December 3, 2014
Publication type: 
Technical Report
Dabaghi, M., & Der Kiureghian, A. (2014). Stochastic Modeling and Simulation of Near-Fault Ground Motions for Performance-Based Earthquake Engineering, PEER Report 2014-20. Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center, University of California, Berkeley, CA.