Bulletin of Earthquake Engineering

, Volume 16, Issue 5, pp 1725–1750 | Cite as

A reliable computerized litho-morphometric model for development of 3D maps of Topographic Aggravation Factor (TAF): the cases of East Mountain (Utah, USA) and Port au Prince (Haiti)

  • G. Grelle
  • C. Wood
  • L. Bonito
  • G. Sappa
  • P. Revellino
  • S. Rahimi
  • F. M. Guadagno
Original Research Paper


A reliability analysis was performed of a model capable of computing Topographic Aggravation Factors (TAF) for real topographic features using a digital elevation model. This model is a module in the SiSeRHMap hybrid model that, by a metamodeling process, computes frequency depending maps (multispectral) of acceleration response taking into account the topographic effect. The model is described by a structure comparable to a series–parallel circuit problem that solves for the response of each given x, y, z map point by scaling the 1D seismic response by the TAF in the frequency domain (each a component of the series circuit). The TAF is dependent on two coupled factors (the parallel components): (1) the 3D shape of the surface and (2) the stiffness of an “equivalent uniform relief”. Reliability analyses were performed on two different areas each characterized by complex topographic features. The first case modelled the East Mountain area (Utah, USA), where a detailed topographic effects study was conducted. A comparison between the TAFs developed in this study and the estimated Median Reference Method and Standard Spectral Ratio results calculated from the recorded ground motions indicated good agreement between the numerical and experimental results. The second case performed a comparison-parametric analysis of two nearby topographic features located in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. For this case, the complete SiSeRHMap model was applied by utilizing stratigraphic and topographic modules. The results clearly confirm the role of the 3D-topographic surface in the seismic site response and the reliability of SiSeRHMap in predicting it.


Topographic effect Site seismic response Microzonation Geographic information system 



We are grateful to anonymous reviewer #1 for providing comments on the manuscript. These comments and suggestions have improved the paper. We are grateful to Susan Hough (reviewer #2) for her precious comments and suggestions. Doubtless, her words have well defined the purpose and reliability of the model: The “series parallel” approach represents a simplification of complex physics, but is otherwise sound and well-motivated. We consider these words are an encouragement to continue in improving and extending the model.


  1. Alfaro P, Delgado J, García-Tortosa FJ, Lenti L, López JA, López-Casado C, Martino S (2012) Widespread landslides induced by the Mw 5.1 earthquake of 11 May 2011 in Lorca, SE Spain Engineering Geology Volumes 137–138, 1 June 2012, pp 40–52Google Scholar
  2. Arabasz WJ, Julander DR (1986) Geometry of seismically active faults and crustal deformation within the Basin and Range-Colorado Plateau transition in Utah. Geol Soc Am Spec Pap 208:43–74Google Scholar
  3. Arabasz WJ, Ake J, McCarter MK, McGarr A, Nava SJ, Pankow KL (2002) Coal-mining seismicity in the Trail Mountain area, Utah: Part I¾ Case study for assessing ground-shaking hazard (abstract), Eos, Trans. Am. Geophys. Union 83 (47), Fall Meeting Suppl., Abstract S12A–1170Google Scholar
  4. Ashford SA, Sitar N (1997) Analysis of topographic amplification of inclined shear waves in a steep coastal bluff. Bull Seismol Soc Am 87(3):692–700Google Scholar
  5. Ashford SA, Sitar N (2002) Simplified method for evaluating seismic stability of steep slopes. J Geotech Geoenviron 128(2):119–129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Ashford SA, Sitar N, Lysmer J, Deng N (1997) Topographic effects on the seismic response of steep slopes. Bull Seismol Soc Am 7(3):701–709Google Scholar
  7. Assimaki D, Gazetas G (2004) Soil and topographic amplification on canyon banks and the Athens 1999 earthquake. J Earthq Eng 8(1):1–44Google Scholar
  8. Assimaki D, Jeong S (2013) Ground-motion observations at hotel Montana during the M 7.0 2010 Haiti earthquake: topography or soil amplification? Bull Seismol Soc Am 103(5):2577–2590CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Assimaki D, Kausel E (2007) Modified topographic amplification factors for a single-faced slope due to kinematic soil-structure interaction. J Geotech Geoenviron Eng 133(11):1414–1431CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Assimaki D, Gazetas G, Kausel E (2005a) Effects of local soil conditions on the topographic aggravation of seismic motion: parametric investigation and recorded field evidence from the 1999 Athens earthquake. Bull Seismol Soc Am 95(3):1059–1089CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Assimaki D, Kausel E, Gazetas G (2005b) Soil-dependent topographic effects: a case study from the 1999 Athens earthquake. Earthq Spectra 21(4):929–966CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Athanasopoulos GA, Pelekis PC, Leonidou EA (1999) Effects of surface topography on seismic ground response in the Egion (Greece) 15 June 1995 earthquake. Soil Dyn Earthq Eng 18:135–149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Barani S, Massa M, Lovati S, Spallarossa D (2014) Effects of surface topography on ground shaking prediction: implications for seismic hazard analysis and recommendations for seismic design. Geophys J Int 197:1551–1565CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Bard PY (1982) Diffracted waves and displacement field over two-dimensional elevated topographies. Geophys J R Astr Soc 71:731–760CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Bard PY, Tucker BE (1985) Ridge and tunnel effects: comparing observations with theory. Bull Seismol Soc Am 75:905–922Google Scholar
  16. Boore DM (1973) The effect of simple topography on seismic waves: implications for the accelerations recorded at Pacoima Dam, San Fernando valley, California. Bull Seismol Soc Am 63(5):1603–1609Google Scholar
  17. Bouchon M, Schultz CA, Toksoz MN (1996) Effect of threedimensional topography on seismic motion. J Geophys Res 101:5835–5846CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Bouckovalas G, Papadimitriou A (2003) Multi-variable relations for soil effects on seismic ground motion. Earthq Eng Struct Dyn 32:1867–1896CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Bouckovalas G, Papadimitriou A (2005) Numerical evaluation of slope topography effects on seismic ground motion. Soil Dyn Earthq Eng 25:547–558CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Buech F, Davies TR, Pettina JR (2010) The little Red Hill seismic experimental study: topographic effects on ground motion at a bedrock-dominated mountain edifice. Bull Seismol Soc Am 100(5A):2219–2229CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Castellani A, Chesi C, Peano A, Sardella L (1982) Seismic response of topographic irregularities. In: Cakmak AS, Abdel-Ghaffar AM, Brebbia CA (eds) Proceedings of soil dynamics and earthquake engineering conference, vol 1. A. A. Balkema, Rotterdam, pp 251–268Google Scholar
  22. Cauzzi C, Faccioli E, Poggi V, Fäh D, Edwards B (2011) Prediction of long-period displacement response spectra for low-to-moderate seismicity regions: Merging the Swiss earthquake waveform archive with a global fully digital strong-motion dataset. In Fourth IASPEI/IAEE international symposium: effects of surface geology on seismic motion, University of California Santa Barbara, USA, Aug 2011Google Scholar
  23. Chávez-García FJ, Sánchez LR, Hatzfeld D (1996) Topographic site effects and HVSR. A comparison between observations and theory. Bull Seismol Soc Am 86(5):1559–1573Google Scholar
  24. Cox BR, Bachhuber J, Rathje E, Wood CM, Dulberg R, Kottke A, Green RA, Olson SM (2011) Shear wave velocity- and geology-based seismic microzonation of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Earthq Spectra 27(S1):S67–S92CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Fahjan YM, Özdemir Z (2008) Scaling of earthquake accelerograms for non-linear dynamics analyses to match the earthquake design spectra. In: The 14th world conference on earthquake engineering. October 12–17, 2008, Beijing, ChinaGoogle Scholar
  26. Fleur SS, Bertrand E, Courboulex F, de Lépinay BM, Deschamps A, Hough S, Cultrera G, Boisson D, Prépetit C (2016) Site effects in Port‐au‐Prince (Haiti) from the analysis of spectral ratio and numerical simulations. Bull Seismol Soc Am 106(3):1298–1315Google Scholar
  27. Gazetas G, Kallou PV, Psarropoulos PN (2002) Topography and soil effects in the Ms 5.9 Parnitha (Athens) earthquake: the case of Adames. Nat Hazards 27(1–2):133–169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Geli L, Bard PY, Jullen B (1988) The effect of topography on earthquake ground motion: a review and new results. Bull Seismol Soc Am 78:42–63Google Scholar
  29. Grelle G, Guadagno FM (2013) Regression analysis for seismic slope instability based on double phase viscoplastic sliding model of the rigid block. Landslides 5:583–597CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Grelle G, Revellino P, Guadagno FM (2011) Methodology for seismic and post-seismic stability assessing of natural clay slope based on a visco-plastic behavioural model in simplified dynamic analysis. Soil Dyn Earthq Eng 12:1248–1260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Grelle G, Bonito L, Revellino P, Guerriero L, Guadagno FM (2014) A hybrid model for mapping simplified seismic response via a GIS-metamodel approach. Nat Hazards Earth Syst Sci 14:1703–1718CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Grelle G, Bonito L, Lampasi A, Revellino P, Guerriero L, Sappa G, Guadagno FM (2016a) SiSeRHMap v1.0: a simulator for mapped seismic response using a hybrid model. Geosci Model Dev 9:1567–1596CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Grelle G, Bonito L, Revellino P, Sappa G (2016b) Frequency-dependent topographic seismic amplification by a “gray box model” using GIS morphometric data Rend. Online Soc Geol It 41(2016):342–345Google Scholar
  34. Hancilar U, Çaktı E, Erdik M, Franco GE, Deodatis G (2014) Earthquake vulnerability of school buildings: probabilistic structural fragility analyses. Soil Dyn Earthq Eng 67(2014):169–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hartzell S, Carver DL, King KW (1994) Initial investigation of site and topographic effects at Robinwood Ridge, California. Bull Seismol Soc Am 84(5):1336–1349Google Scholar
  36. Hartzell S, Meremonte M, Ramírez-Guzmán L, McNamara D (2014) Ground motion in the presence of complex topography: earthquake and ambient noise sources. Bull Seismol Soc Am 104(1):451–466CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hough SE, Altidor JR, Anglade D, Given D, Janvier MG, Maharrey JZ, Meremonte M, Mildor BS-L, Prepetit C, Yong A (2010) Localized damage caused by topographic amplification during the 2010 M7.0 Haiti earthquake. Nat Geosci 3:778–782CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Hough SE, Yong A, Altidor JR, Anglade D, Given D, Mildor S-L (2011) Site characterization and site response in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Earthq Spectra 27(S1):S137–S155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Idriss IM, Seed HB (1967) Response of earthbanks during earthquakes. J Soil Mech Found Div ASCE 93(SM3):61–82Google Scholar
  40. Iwahashi J, Pike RJ (2007) Automated classifications of topography from DEMs by an unsupervised nested-means algorithm and a three-part geometric signature. Geomorphology 86:409–440CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Jafarzadeh F, Shahrabi MM, Jahromi HF (2015) On the role of topographic amplification in seismic slope instabilities. J Rock Mech Geotech Eng 7(2):163–170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Klein FW (1978) Hypocenter location program HYPOINVERSE, U.S. Geol. Surv. Open-File 29 Rept. 78–694, 113 ppGoogle Scholar
  43. Kovacs WD, Seed HB, Idriss IM (1971) Studies of seismic response of clay banks. J Soil Mech Found Div ASCE 97(SM2):441–455Google Scholar
  44. Le Brun B, Hatzfeld D, Bard P-Y (1999) Experimental study of the ground-motion on a large scale topographic hill a Kitherion (Greece). J Seismol 3:1–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Lee WHK, White RA, DH Harlow, Rogers JA, Spudich P, Dodge DA (1994) Digital seismograms of selected aftershocks of the Northridge earthquake recorded by a dense seismic array on February 11, 1994 at Cedar Hill Nursery in Tarzana, California, U.S. Geol Surv Open-File Rept. 94–234Google Scholar
  46. Massa M, Lovati S, D’Alema E, Ferretti G, Bakavoli M (2010) An experimental approach for estimating seismic amplification effects at the top of a ridge, and the implication for groundmotion predictions: the case of Narni, Central Italy. B Seismol Soc Am 100:3020–3034CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Massa M, Lovati S, Franceschina G, D’Alema E, Marzorati S, Mazza S, Cattaneo M, Selvaggi G, Amato A, Michelini A, Augliera P (2014) ISMD, a web portal for real-time processing and dissemination of INGV strong-motion data. Seismol Res Lett 85(4):863–877CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Maufroy E, Cruz-Atienza VM, Gaffet S (2012) A Robust Method for Assessing 3-D Topographic Site Effects: a Case Study at the LSBB Underground Laboratory. France Earthq Spectra 28(3):1097–1115CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Maufroy E, Cruz Atienza VM, Cotton F, Gaffet S (2015) Frequency scaled curvature as a proxy for topographic site effect amplification and ground motion variability. B Seismol Soc Am 105:354–367CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. May TW (1980) The effectiveness of trenches and scarps in reducing seismic energy, Ph.D. Thesis, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CaliforniaGoogle Scholar
  51. Ohtsuki A, Harumi K (1983) Effect of topography and subsurface inhomogeneities on seismic SV waves. Earthq Eng Struct Dyn 11:441–462CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Özel NM, Harmandar E, Pinar A (2011) Sensitivity of the strong ground motion time histories to a finite source model: a case study for the January 12, 2010 Haiti earthquake (Mw = 7.0). Soil Dyn Earthq Eng 31(11):1441–1451CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Paolucci R (2002) Amplification of earthquake ground motion by steep topographic irregularities. Earthq Eng Struct Dyn 31:1831–1853CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Paolucci R, Faccioli E, Maggio F (1999) 3D Response analysis of an instrumented hill at Matsuzaki, Japan, by a spectral method. J Seismol 3:191–209Google Scholar
  55. Pechmann JC, Arabasz WJ, Pankow KL, Burlacu R, McCarter MK (2008) Seismological report on the 6 August 2007 Crandall Canyon Mine collapse in Utah. Seismol Res Lett 79(5):620–636CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Rai M, Rodriguez-Marek A, Yong A (2016) An empirical model to predict topographic effects in strong ground motion using California small-to medium-magnitude earthquake database. Earthq Spectra 32(2):1033–1054CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Rathje EM, Bachhuber J, Dulberg R, Cox BR, Kottke A, Wood CM, Green RA, Olson S, Wells D, Rix G (2011) Damage patterns in Port-au-Prince during the 2010 Haiti Earthquake. Earthq Spectra 27(S1):S117–S136CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Sànchez-Sesma FJ (1985) Diffraction of elastic SH waves by wedges. Bull Seismol Soc Am 75:1435–1446Google Scholar
  59. Sanò T, Pugliese A (1999) Parametric study on topographic effect in seismic soil amplification. In: Oliveto G, Brebbia CA (eds) Proceeding of advances in earthquake engineering, earthquake resistance engineering structure II, vol 4. WIT Press, Southampton, pp 321–330Google Scholar
  60. Sitar N, Clough GW, Bachus R (1980) Behavior of weakly cemented soil slopes under static and seismic loading, Report No. 44, The John A. Blume Earthquake Engineering Center, Stanford UniversityGoogle Scholar
  61. Spudich P (1996) Directional topographic site response at Tarzana observed in aftershocks of the 1994 Northridge, California, Earthquake: Implications for mainshock motions. Bull Seismol Soc Am 86:193–208Google Scholar
  62. Terrier M, Bialkowski A, Nachbaur A, Prépetit C, Joseph YF (2014) Revision of the geological context of the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area, Haiti: implications for slope failures and seismic hazard assessment. Nat Hazards Earth Syst Sci 14(9):2577–2587CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Torgoev A, Havenith HB (2016) 2D dynamic studies combined with the surface curvature analysis to predict Arias Intensity amplification. J Seismol 20(3):711–731CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Trifunac MD, Hudson DE (1971) Analysis of the Pacoima dam accelerogram—San Fernando, California, earthquake of 1971. Bull Seismol Soc Am 61(5):1393–1411Google Scholar
  65. Williams DJ, Arabasz WJ (1989) Mining-related and tectonic seismicity in the East Mountain Area Wasatch Plateau, Utah. Pageoph 129:345–368CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Wong IG (1993) Tectonic stresses in mine seismicity: are they significant? In: Young RP (ed) Rockbursts and Seismicity in Mines 93. A. A. Balkema, Rotterdam, pp 273–278Google Scholar
  67. Wood CM (2013) Field investigation of topographic effects using mine seismicity. Ph.D. Dissertation, Dept. of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering, University of Texas, Austin, TX, 377 pgGoogle Scholar
  68. Wood CM, Cox BR (2015) Experimental data set of mining-induced seismicity for studies of full-scale topographic effects. Earthq Spectra 31(1):541–564CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Wood CM, Cox BR (2016) Comparison of field data processing methods for the evaluation of topographic effects. Earthq Spectra 32(4):2127–2147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Zimmaro P, Stewart JP (2016) Engineering reconnaissance following the 2016 M 6.0 Central Italy Earthquake. Version 1 Geotechnical Extreme Events Reconnaissance Association (Report No. GEER-050) Dated: 15 September 2016Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of Rome “La Sapienza”RomeItaly
  2. 2.Department of Civil EngineeringUniversity of ArkansasFayettevilleUSA
  3. 3.Department of Science and TechnologiesUniversity of SannioBeneventoItaly

Personalised recommendations