Characterization of earthquake strong ground motion

P. G. Somerville*, R. W. Graves

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Some underwater landslides are triggered by strong ground motions caused by earthquakes. This paper reviews current concepts and trends in the characterization of strong ground motion. Improved empirical ground motion models have been derived from a strong motion data set that has grown markedly over the past decade. However, these empirical models have a large degree of uncertainty because the magnitude-distance-soil category parameterization of these models often oversimplifies reality. This reflects the fact that other conditions that are known to have an important influence on strong ground motions, such as near-fault rupture directivity effects, crustal waveguide effects, and basin response effects, are not treated as parameters of these simple models. Numerical ground motion models based on seismological theory that include these additional effects have been developed and extensively validated against recorded ground motions, and used to estimate the ground motions of past earthquakes and predict the ground motions of future scenario earthquakes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1811-1828
Number of pages18
JournalPure and Applied Geophysics
Issue number10-11
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Basin response
  • Earthquake source
  • Ground motion
  • Numerical simulation
  • Prediction
  • Rupture directivity
  • Wave propagation


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