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U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2011-1083

In cooperation with Universidad de los Andes

Required Number of Records for ASCE/SEI 7 Ground-Motion Scaling Procedure

By Juan C. Reyes and Erol Kalkan


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The procedures and criteria in 2006 IBC (International Council of Building Officials, 2006) and 2007 CBC (International Council of Building Officials, 2007) for the selection and scaling ground-motions for use in nonlinear response history analysis (RHA) of structures are based on ASCE/SEI 7 provisions (ASCE, 2005, 2010). According to ASCE/SEI 7, earthquake records should be selected from events of magnitudes, fault distance, and source mechanisms that comply with the maximum considered earthquake, and then scaled so that the average value of the 5-percent-damped response spectra for the set of scaled records is not less than the design response spectrum over the period range from 0.2Tn to 1.5Tn sec (where Tn is the fundamental vibration period of the structure). If at least seven ground-motions are analyzed, the design values of engineering demand parameters (EDPs) are taken as the average of the EDPs determined from the analyses. If fewer than seven ground-motions are analyzed, the design values of EDPs are taken as the maximum values of the EDPs. ASCE/SEI 7 requires a minimum of three ground-motions. These limits on the number of records in the ASCE/SEI 7 procedure are based on engineering experience, rather than on a comprehensive evaluation. This study statistically examines the required number of records for the ASCE/SEI 7 procedure, such that the scaled records provide accurate, efficient, and consistent estimates of “true” structural responses. Based on elastic-perfectly-plastic and bilinear single-degree-of-freedom systems, the ASCE/SEI 7 scaling procedure is applied to 480 sets of ground-motions. The number of records in these sets varies from three to ten. The records in each set were selected either (i) randomly, (ii) considering their spectral shapes, or (iii) considering their spectral shapes and design spectral-acceleration value, A(Tn). As compared to benchmark (that is, “true”) responses from unscaled records using a larger catalog of ground-motions, it is demonstrated that the ASCE/SEI 7 scaling procedure is overly conservative if fewer than seven ground-motions are employed. Utilizing seven or more randomly selected records provides a more accurate estimate of the EDPs accompanied by reduced record-to-record variability of the responses. Consistency in accuracy and efficiency is achieved only if records are selected on the basis of their spectral shape and A(Tn).

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For additional information:
Contact Information, Earthquake Science Center, Menlo Park Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
345 Middlefield Road, MS 977
Menlo Park, California 94025

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Suggested citation:

Reyes, J.C. and Kalkan, E., 2011, Required number of records for ASCE/SEI 7 ground-motion scaling procedure: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2011-1083, 29 p.




Ground-Motions Selected

Description of Inelastic SDF Systems


Benchmark Inelastic Deformations

Evaluation of ASCE/SEI 7 Scaling Procedure: Less Than Seven Ground-Motions

Evaluation of ASCE/SEI 7 Scaling Procedure: Seven or More Ground-Motions

Modal-Pushover-Based Scaling Procedure: Alternative to the ASCE/SEI 7 Scaling Method



References Cited


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