Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Flexible multimethod approach for seismic site characterization

August 4, 2022

We describe the flexible multimethod seismic site characterization technique for obtaining shear-wave velocity (VS) profiles and derivative information, such as the time-averaged VS of the upper 30 m (VS30). Simply stated, the multimethod approach relies on the application of multiple independent noninvasive site characterization acquisition and analysis techniques utilized in a flexible field-based approach through a decision process based on primary factors such as the investigator’s available equipment, field logistics (e.g., available array deployment space, urban versus rural), geologic setting, and funding among other primary factors. In a multimethod approach, sites ideally should be characterized using both active and passive noninvasive (i.e., no drilling and only minimal disturbance to the ground surface) methods. Almost without exception, we recommend the use of at least one active-source technique for analyzing surface waves, which in the current state of practice would include one or more of the following: spectral analysis of surface waves (SASW; commonly Rayleigh waves) and multichannel analysis of surface waves (MASW; Rayleigh and/or Love waves). In addition, passive-source microtremor array methods (MAMs) using linear (one-dimensional) and two-dimensional arrays may be appropriate or even required for characterizing a given site. Similarly, the microtremor horizontal-to-vertical spectral ratio (mHVSR) method can be valuable for identifying shallow rock sites. Finally, P- and SH-wave seismic refraction methods warrant consideration, especially at rock and shallow-rock sites.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2022
Title Flexible multimethod approach for seismic site characterization
DOI 10.1007/s10950-022-10102-y
Authors William J. Stephenson, Alan Yong, Antony Martin
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Seismology
Index ID 70234241
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Earthquake Science Center; Geologic Hazards Science Center

Related Content