Influence of irregular topography and random soil properties on coherency loss of spatial seismic ground motions

Kaiming Bi, Hong Hao

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)


Coherency functions are used to describe the spatial variation of seismic ground motions at multiple supports of long span structures. Many coherency function models have been proposed based on theoretical derivation or measured spatial ground motion time histories at dense seismographic arrays. Most of them are suitable for modelling spatial ground motions on flat-lying alluvial sites. It has been found that these coherency functions are not appropriate for modelling spatial variations of ground motions at sites with irregular topography (Struct. Saf. 1991; 10(1):1-13). This paper investigates the influence of layered irregular sites and random soil properties on coherency functions of spatial ground motions on ground surface. Ground motion time histories at different locations on ground surface of the irregular site are generated based on the combined spectral representation method and one-dimensional wave propagation theory. Random soil properties, including shear modulus, density and damping ratio of each layer, are assumed to follow normal distributions, and are modelled by the independent one-dimensional random fields in the vertical direction. Monte-Carlo simulations are employed to model the effect of random variations of soil properties on the simulated surface ground motion time histories. The coherency function is estimated from the simulated ground motion time histories. Numerical examples are presented to illustrate the proposed method. Numerical results show that coherency function directly relates to the spectral ratio of two local sites, and the influence of randomly varying soil properties at a canyon site on coherency functions of spatial surface ground motions cannot be neglected.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1045-1061
Number of pages17
JournalEarthquake Engineering and Structural Dynamics
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Coherency loss function
  • Irregular topography
  • Monte-Carlo simulation
  • Random soil properties

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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