New site coefficients and site classification system used in recent building seismic code provisions

Earthquake Spectra
By: , and 



Recent code provisions for buildings and other structures (1994 and 1997 NEHRP Provisions, 1997 UBC) have adopted new site amplification factors and a new procedure for site classification. Two amplitude-dependent site amplification factors are specified: Fa for short periods and Fv for longer periods. Previous codes included only a long period factor S and did not provide for a short period amplification factor. The new site classification system is based on definitions of five site classes in terms of a representative average shear wave velocity to a depth of 30 m (V¯s). This definition permits sites to be classified unambiguously. When the shear wave velocity is not available, other soil properties such as standard penetration resistance or undrained shear strength can be used. The new site classes denoted by letters A - E, replace site classes in previous codes denoted by S1 - S4. Site classes A and B correspond to hard rock and rock, Site Class C corresponds to soft rock and very stiff / very dense soil, and Site Classes D and E correspond to stiff soil and soft soil. A sixth site class, F, is defined for soils requiring site-specific evaluations. Both Fa and Fv are functions of the site class, and also of the level of seismic hazard on rock, defined by parameters such as Aa and Av (1994 NEHRP Provisions), Ss and Sl (1997 NEHRP Provisions) or Z (1997 UBC). The values of Fa and Fv decrease as the seismic hazard on rock increases due to soil nonlinearity. The greatest impact of the new factors Fa and Fv as compared with the old S factors occurs in areas of low-to-medium seismic hazard. This paper summarizes the new site provisions, explains the basis for them, and discusses ongoing studies of site amplification in recent earthquakes that may influence future code developments.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title New site coefficients and site classification system used in recent building seismic code provisions
Series title Earthquake Spectra
DOI 10.1193/1.1586082
Volume 16
Issue 1
Year Published 2000
Language English
Publisher Sage Publications
Description 27 p.
First page 41
Last page 67
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