Site Response as a Function of Near-Surface Geology in the South Iceland Seismic Zone

K. Atakan*, P. Halldórsson, G. O. Fridleifsson, Bryndís Brandsdóttir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Site response measurements provide information on the amplification of ground motions generated by local conditions. Recent studies of large destructive earthquakes have shown that damage during the earthquakes are often caused by the amplification of seismic waves in near-surface sedimentary layers. The estimation of site response is therefore critical, in order to evaluate the true seismic hazard potential of a given area. We investigated local site amplifications in the South Iceland Seismic Zone (SISZ). Nine digital seismographs were deployed, temporarily, in an area of approximately 400 km2, in the westernmost part of the SISZ. Among the 90 events recorded, 15 were used in this study, including a magnitude 3.1 (ML) event and selected aftershocks, which occurred in the northern outskirts of the village Hveragerdi. Single Station Spectral Ratios (SSSR) of the recorded earthquakes revealed some of the effects of local site conditions. Spectral amplification factors of 2-5 on average, can be expected in the SIL area, depending on the sediment type and thickness. Higher site amplifications occur in the southern part of the study region, where the thickest sedimentary cover is found. Spectral amplification, related to topographical effects, is observed at the bedrock reference station, Bjarnastadir. Standard Spectral Ratios (SSR), with respect to the bedrock reference station, Bjarnastadir, were also calculated for some stations, in order to compare the two spectral ratio results. The two methods show a good correlation at some stations, whereas at others they vary considerably. The comparison between the earthquake and ambient noise data, on the other hand, gave better correlation when the SSSR method is used.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-164
Number of pages26
JournalNatural Hazards
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 1997

Other keywords

  • Seismic hazard
  • Site response
  • South Iceland lowland
  • Spectral ratio


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