Empirical analysis of near-fault forward-directivity effects in the 2010-11 Canterbury earthquakes
In this paper, the characteristics of near-fault ground motions recorded during the Mw7.1 Darfield and Mw 6.2 Christchurch earthquakes are examined and compared with existing empirical models. The characteristics of forward-directivity effects are first examined using a wavelet-based pulse-classification algorithm. This is followed by an assessment of the adequacy of empirical models which aim to capture the effect of directivity effects on amplifying the acceleration response spectra; and the period and peak velocity of the forward-directivity pulse. It is illustrated that broadband directivity models developed by Somerville et al. (1997) and Abrahamson (2000) generally under-predict the observed amplification of response spectral ordinates at longer vibration periods. In contrast, a recently developed narrowband model by Shahi and Baker (2011) provides significantly improved predictions by amplifying the response spectra within a small range of periods surrounding the directivity pulse period. Although the empirical predictions of the pulse period are generally favourable for the Christchurch earthquake, the observations from the Darfield earthquake are significantly under-predicted. The elongation in observed pulse periods is inferred as being a result of the soft sedimentary soils of the Canterbury basin. However, empirical predictions of the observed peak velocity associated with the directivity pulse are generally adequate for both events.