Simulation of systematic site amplification effects observed at Heathcote Valley during the 2010-2011 Canterbury Earthquake sequence
he strong motion station at Heathcote Valley School (HVSC) recorded unusually high peak ground accelerations (2.21g vertical and 1.41g horizontal) during the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake. Ground motions recorded at HVSC in numerous other events also exhibited consistently higher intensities compared with nearby strong motion stations. We investigated the underlying causes of such high intensity ground motions at HVSC by means of 2D dynamic finite element analyses, using recorded ground motions during the 2010-2011 Canterbury earthquake sequence. The model takes advantage of a LiDAR-based digital elevation model (DEM) to account for the surface topography, while the geometry and dynamic properties of the surficial soils are characterized by seismic cone penetration tests (sCPT) and Multi-Channel Analyses of Surface Waves (MASW). Comparisons of simulated and recorded ground motions suggests that our model performs well for distant events, while for near-field events, ground motions recorded at the adopted reference station at Lyttelton Port are not reasonable input motions for the simulation. The simulations suggest that Rayleigh waves generated at the inclined interface of the surficial colluvium and underlying volcanic rock strongly affect the ground motions recorded at HVSC, in particular, being the dominant contributor to the recorded vertical motions.