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The usual load that a foundation is required to sustain is the vertical load
arising from static permanent and imposed actions. However, horizontal loads
and moments are also common and may be significant. Horizontal loads are
rarely applied to a structure exactly at foundation level, thus the horizontal load
is usually accompanied by a moment which simply reflects the distance above
foundation level at which the horizontal shear is applied.

In static situations a common example of a foundation subject to vertical load,
horizontal shear and a corresponding moment is the base of a gravity retaining
wall. The function of the weight of the wall is to transfer a horizontal force
down to a foundation level where the required reaction can be generated. A
similar example is the horizontal thrust that is applied to a dam by the water
impounded behind.

In dynamic situations there are three common sources of foundation loading
which apply vertical and horizontal loads as well as overturning moments;
these are earthquake, wind and wave loading.

A special sub-class of dynamic loading comes from machine foundations. This
topic is not given explicit treatment in this book as there it is the steady state
response of the system, involving tens of thousands and even millions, of
cycles that is significant. On the other hand, earthquake response can only
rarely be regarded as steady state.

Regardless of the approach used to arrive at design loads or a design ground
motion the details of the soil profile encountered at the site under
Design of Earthquake Resistant Foundations

consideration are important. First, the soil layer will alter the frequency content
of the earthquake motion transmitted upwards towards the ground surface,
thus, for a given earthquake, the response spectra recorded at the top of a soil
profile and at an adjacent rock site will probably have the largest spectral
accelerations at different periods. Second, the presence of the soil layers
influences the intensity of the recorded ground motion relative to that of an
adjacent rock site. The effect depends on the level of seismic excitation: (i) at
low levels of excitation, the soil behaves elastically and acts as a filter and tends
to amplify those components of the motion with periods corresponding to the
natural periods of the soil layers; (ii) at large levels of excitation, the strength of
the soil provides a limit on the shear stresses that can be transmitted up
through the soil profile, and so nonlinear stress-strain behaviour of the soil
becomes important.

Additionally, there is the interaction between the building foundation and the
soil supporting it. This is known as Soil-Structure-Interaction (SSI); some
introductory material is given in the next chapter. The interplay between site
effects and soil structure interaction is illustrated in Figure 6.1. Several of the
measurements of site and foundation response are illustrated in Figures 6.2 to 6.8.


First we need a definition of the term site effect, which imagines that we have
adjacent sites, one with rock at the surface, and the other on a soil profile
overlying the rock. As the sites are adjacent we can assume that the incoming
rock motion will be the same, or nearly so, for both. Then any difference between
the motions recorded at the two sites can be attributed to the differing ground
profiles, Figure 6.1, and is referred to as a site effect. The velocities and
accelerations at the surface of the soil may be greater or less than those at the
surface of the rock, either is referred to as a site effect. Site effects might also be
indicated by differences in frequency content of spectra. Notice that usually we
compare motions at the free surface. However, comparison between the rock
motion at the base of the soil column with the motion at the surface is another
way of indicating the way soil layers modify earthquake motions.

Figure 6.1 Site effects and soil-structure interaction

bedrock motion
(site) amplification of ground
motion by far-field soil body
site-modified spectra
for surface ground
near-field soil modelled
by discrete elastic springs
A, B
Chapter 6: Earthquake induced foundation actions

Figure 6.2 Aftershock recording, surface geology, and seismograms for
three sites in Oakland (after Borcherdt and Donovan (1989)).

Design of Earthquake Resistant Foundations

There are various ways in which this difference might be quantified. The simplest
is to take the ratio of the peak ground acceleration (PGA) at the surface of the soil
profile to that at the surface of the rock site. The Loma Prieta records in the
Oakland area provide an example of this type of effect. The PGA at rock sites was
of the order of 0.08g and those at the surface of soil profiles were up to three
times greater, Figure 6.2. Although there are several kilometres between the sites
of these instruments, all can be regarded as being the same distance from the
zone of energy release of the aftershock. It is very clear that the recorded
motion is greatly affected by the type of ground on which the instrument is
located. In some cases an adjacent rock motion was not available but instruments
are positioned at various depths in the soil profile and possibly in the underlying
rock. The ratio of the PGA at the ground surface to that in the rock underlying
can be used, as mentioned above, as a measure of the site effect, but it is not the
same as the ratio of the soil and rock site peak ground surface accelerations.

Another possible quantification of a site effect is to take the ratios of the peak
spectral accelerations for the rock and soil surface motions.

The above are single figure indications of site effects. Measures over the range of
frequencies can be obtained by taking ratios of response spectra, that is at each
period the ratio of the spectral acceleration for the soil surface spectrum is divided
by the corresponding value for the response spectrum of the recorded motion at
the rock site. A related method is to take Fourier spectral ratios, either velocities
or accelerations, rather than ratios of response spectra. Because of the "spikey"
nature of many Fourier spectra smoothing is usually necessary. These spectral
ratio comparisons tend to emphasise the features of the soil profile and smooth
out the particulars of the incoming rock motion.

Decreasing PGA and spectral ratios with increasing input excitation are indicative
of nonlinear soil behaviour.

A review of published data reveals that, at many instrumented sites, the soil profile
responds in an approximately linear manner. If these sites are at the top of a
column of stiff soil it is not surprising that they behave linearly. Nevertheless
many recent earthquakes, either by direct measurement (Loma Prieta (1989) and
Mexico City (1985)) or by inference (Philippines (1990), Newcastle (1989),
Armenia (1988)), have confirmed earlier evidence that soil sites will behave
differently from rock sites. For small to modest peak accelerations in the
incoming rock motion it is very clear that the soil layers amplify the response. At
larger accelerations there is the possibility that the soil will deform in a nonlinear
manner; if this happens weak motion data cannot be extrapolated to give strong
motion predictions. The question of nonlinear soil behaviour has been
controversial but there have been some significant developments in recent years.
Some examples are given in the next section.

Chapter 6: Earthquake induced foundation actions

Figure 6.3 Spectral ratios for the Coalinga strong and weak ground motions
(after J arpe et al 1988).

6.1.1 Examples of site effects from recorded earthquake motions.

Coalinga, California
Strong motion data was recorded at two sites near Coalinga during the 1983
earthquake, in addition aftershocks were recorded. The peak horizontal ground
accelerations recorded ranged between 0.03g and 0.72 g. In addition 23 weak
motion events were recorded in April and May 1985 with two digital
seismometers co-located with the strong motion instruments. There were two
instrument sites a few kilometres apart. The soil site consists of up to 150m of
alluvium underlain by Cenozoic and Cretaceous sedimentary rocks. The alluvium
is said to be unsaturated but no shear wave velocity data are given. The rock site is
tertiary age sandstone. Figure 6.3 has spectral ratios, obtained from smoothed
Fourier spectral amplitudes, calculated by Jarpe et al (1988) for the strong and
weak motions. For the 1 to 10Hz frequency band the average strong motion
spectral ratios are similar to the average weak motion ratios, although Jarpe et al
noted that scatter for the strong motions is considerably greater than for the weak
motions. Consequently the Coalinga sites seem, on average, to have behaved

Mexico City
The Mexico City response to the 1985 earthquake has been thoroughly
investigated. As explained by Whitman (1986) there are several features of the site
conditions in Mexico City which are unusual and even unique. One of these is the
large strain range over which the volcanic clay behaves in an elastic manner,
consequently during the 1985, and other, earthquakes the local soils amplified the
incoming rock motion elastically, Romo et al (1989). The epicentre of the 1985
earthquake was about 360 km from Mexico City consequently the intensity of the
incoming rock motion was quite modest, Figure 6.4. However, the overlying soil
responded in an approximately elastic manner so the response spectrum in Figure
6.4 shows significant amplification at the elastic period of the soil layer, about 2
seconds at the SCT site and about 3.5 seconds at the CAO site. These
predominant periods are about the same as the natural period of the 'bowl' of
Design of Earthquake Resistant Foundations

soft soil beneath the city. It was these large spectral accelerations at the ground
surface that caused the damage to so many of the buildings in the city.

Loma Prieta 1989
The records for the Treasure Island and Yerba Buena Island instrument pair,
which are separated by only a few km, have received intense investigation since
the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, Jarpe et al (1989), Idriss (1990), Hryciw et al
(1991) and Dickensen et al (1991). The soil profile at Treasure Island consists of
13m of hydraulically placed sand, overlying 18 metres of Young Bay Mud,
followed by 10m of dense sand and then 45m of Old Bay Sediments to

Figure 6.4 Response spectra from the motions recorded at various locations in
Mexico City during the 1985 earthquake (after Seed et al 1988).

Figure 6.5 Spectral ratios for the Loma Prieta mainshock and aftershocks at
Treasure Island; solid line: main shock, shaded band: 95% confidence interval
on aftershock data (after J arpe et al 1989).

Chapter 6: Earthquake induced foundation actions

Figure 6.6 Observed and predicted alluvial site peak ground acceleration for
the Loma Prieta earthquake (after Chin and Aki 1991).

bedrock. A shear wave velocity profile was obtained using the Seismic Cone
Penetration Test. The PGA recorded on rock at Yerba Buena Island was 0.06g
and 0.16g at the nearby Treasure Island. The ratio between these two is of the
same order as ratios in nearby Oakland but in the case of Treasure Island there is
good evidence of nonlinear soil behaviour. Jarpe et al (1989) and Darragh and
Shakal (1991) computed the spectral ratios between the two sites for the main
shock and also for aftershock records captured at the same locations. The results
are shown in Figure 6.5 and provide clear evidence of nonlinear behaviour at the
Treasure Island site. This is of interest because the PGA recorded at Treasure
Island was nearly three times that at Yerba Buena Island, which suggests that
amplification between a soil site and an adjacent rock site is not necessarily
evidence for linearity, unlike the situation in Mexico City in 1985. Liquefaction
was observed to occur at Treasure Island after 15 seconds. The strong motion
spectral ratios in Figure 6.5 were calculated from the first 5 seconds following the
arrival of the main shock S-wave, so liquefaction will not have affected the ratios.

The contribution of Aki and his co-workers
Several recent papers on site effects have come from Aki: Aki (1988), Aki and
Irikura (1991), Chin, Aki and Martin (1991) and Chin and Aki (1991). These
papers have moved from a position that seismological evidence reveals a good
correlation between weak and strong ground motion, to a statement that
nonlinear soil behaviour may have been more significant than most seismologists
have thought, to the presentation of evidence for nonlinear behaviour. Chin and
Aki (1991) report on the use of weak motion site amplification factors derived
from coda waves of the Loma Prieta strong motion records. They then used
these to predict the PGA for the strong motion event. Figure 6.6 shows how this
technique overestimates the PGA for distances less than 80 km from the source.
Chin and Aki concluded that there exists a pervasive nonlinear site effect in the
epicentral region of the Loma Prieta earthquake.

Design of Earthquake Resistant Foundations

The Lotung experimental site, Taiwan
At this site two downhole arrays have been installed at various depths in a soil
profile, Chang et al (1989 and 1990). Instruments were installed at the surface and
at depths of 6, 11, 17 and 47 metres. At the test site the soil profile consists of
about 50m of recent alluvium underlain by 350m of pleistocene formation. A
shear wave velocity profile is available for the upper 50m or so of the profile. The
upper 30m of the profile consists of silty sand and sandy silt with some gravel.
Beneath this the soil is predominantly clayey silt and silty clay. The water table is
within 0.5m of the ground surface. A number of moderate to strong earthquakes
have been recorded at the Lotung site with PGAs in the range 0.03 to 0.26g. As
no nearby rock outcrop record is available Chang et al consider a number of one
dimensional analyses to arrive at change from the in situ shear wave velocity
required to produce the Fourier spectrum of the recorded motion. They
compared the measured small strain shear wave velocities for the soil profile with
the computed apparent shear wave velocities in the soil profile during the passage
of the earthquake. Evidence for nonlinear

Figure 6.7 Effect of peak ground acceleration on site response. Upper: Usual
understanding prior to the mid-1980s, Lower: the understanding after the
1985 Mexico City and 1989 Loma Prieta earthquakes (after Idriss (1990)).
Chapter 6: Earthquake induced foundation actions

Figure 6.8 Average spectral shapes for three different subsurface conditions
(after Idriss (1985)).

behaviour is provided by this reduction of shear wave velocity.

6.1.2 From the above observations to some tentative general conclusions

The recorded site response data in Figure 6.2 are for small levels of ground
shaking. As mentioned above the response of a soil site varies as the intensity
of the ground shaking increases for very small shaking intensity the soil
responds in an elastic manner and as the intensity of the motion increases the
nonlinear stiffness and damping behaviour of the soil come into play, as shown
in Figures 3.24 and 4.41. Prior to the 1985 Mexico City and 1989 Loma Prieta
earthquakes the geotechnical community expected that nonlinear soil stress-
strain behaviour would reduce the intensity of earthquake shaking at most soil
sites as shown in the upper part of Figure 6.7. However, both these
Design of Earthquake Resistant Foundations

earthquakes showed that in situ cohesive soils are elastic over a great range
of strains than had been expected. The bottom part of Figure 6.7 presents an
interpretation of these effects from Idriss (1990). This shows that for small
earthquakes soil profiles can indeed be expected to amplify the incoming
earthquake motion. As the level of excitation increases the amplification
decreases but, from the lower part of Figure 6.7, only quite large peak ground
accelerations reduce the response of the soil site to less than that of the rock

There have been a number of suggestions as to how the shape of the response
spectra vary for different sites, one example from Idriss (1985) is reproduced in
Figure 6.8. The second part of this diagram provides a means of scaling the
spectrum for different earthquake magnitudes. The spectral shapes given in
Figure 6.8 have been normalised by dividing all the ordinates by the peak
ground acceleration. From this it is apparent that, for normalised spectra
anyway, spectral shapes for different site conditions differ not so much in
amplitude but in the period of the maximum response.

6.1.3 Numerical calculations of one-dimensional site response

Further insight into the conclusions of section 6.1.2, and the information
conveyed in Figure 6.2 to 6.8, can be achieved by calculation of the response of
simple soil profiles to vertically propagating shear waves, both steady state
sinusoidal waves and earthquake waves. If the materials behave elastically it is
possible to calculate exactly the response of a layered system to earthquake
excitation; see Kramer (1996), Towhata (2008), Wolf (1985) and Schnabel et al
(1972). Figure 6.9 shows the results of such calculations when a layer of soil 20
m thick overlies and elastic half space. The figure gives the steady state
response to a number of sinusoidal waves at differing frequencies, the response
to each frequency is an independent calculation. Figure 6.9 plots the
amplification in the surface motion with respect to the input at the base. It
shows that the natural frequency, or first mode (the largest peak), is
accompanied by many other frequencies or modes. Figure 6.9a illustrates the
effect of damping and shows how as the damping increases from 2.5% to 10%
the amplification is approximately halved. The amount of amplification is a
function of the contrast in shear wave velocity between the soil and the
underlying rock; for the particular calculations shown in the figure the shear
wave velocity of the rock is 2000 m/sec. and that of the soil is 200 m/sec.
Figure 6.9b, for a rock layer with a shear wave velocity of 2000 m/sec. and
damping of 5% illustrates the effect of the shear wave velocity of the soil layer
with a damping value of 2.5%. It is apparent that the amount of the
amplification depends on the contrast between the shear wave velocity of the
soil and the rock.

It is possible to extend the above calculations to modelling the earthquake
response of a soil layer, provided the soil and the rock respond elastically to the
earthquake motion. The results of such calculations are shown in Figure 6.10.
The acceleration response spectrum of the earthquake motion applied at the
base of the soil stratum is compared with that at the top of the soil layer in

Chapter 6: Earthquake induced foundation actions
0 5 10 15 20 25 30
Frequency (Hz)
0 5 10 15 20 25 30
Frequency (Hz)
=100 m/sec
=400 m/sec
=1600 m/sec
a b

Figure 6.9 Elastic steady state response to sinusoidal excitation, at various
frequencies, of a 20 m thick elastic soil layer overlying a deep elastic rock
layer (damping and shear wave velocity of the underlying rock 2.5% and
2000 m/sec respectively). (a) Soil damping values of 2.5%, 5.0% and 10%
(soil shear wave velocity 200 m/sec), (b) Effect of the shear wave velocity
of the soil (soil damping value 5%).

Figure 6.10a. The key to this calculation is Figure 6.10c, which, just like Figure
6.9a, shows how the various frequencies are modified by the properties of the
soil layer through the waves propagate. Figure 6.10b has the Fourier spectrum
of the earthquake motion applied to the base of the soil layer and Figure 6.10d
has the Fourier spectrum of the motion at the top of the soil layer. One gets
from Figure 6.10b to Figure 6.10d by taking the product of the Fourier
spectrum of the input motion, Figure 6.10b, with the amplification function in
Figure 6.10c. This gives the Fourier spectrum of the motion at the top of the
soil layer. The time history of the motion at the ground surface is obtained by
taking the inverse Fourier transform of the spectrum in Figure 6.10d. It is
worth noting in Figures 6.10b and 6.10d how the amplification function in
Figure 6.10c generates "humps" in the Fourier spectrum of the motion at the
ground surface corresponding to the first three humps in the function in
Figure 6.10c.

The calculations plotted in Figures 6.9 and 6.10 are for an elastic soil layer
overlying elastic rock. However, we know from Figures 3.24 and 4.41 that soil
behaves nonlinearly with the apparent shear modulus being a function of the
shear strain amplitude. Consequently we should not expect a soil deposit to
respond elastically to the passage of an earthquake. Software for calculating the
elastic response of a layer to vertically propagating earthquake motion is
frequently also able to calculate the nonlinear soil response. One of the earliest
ways of doing this is SHAKE (Schnabel et al 1972), which, using an iterative
process, modifies the modulus of the soil at each position in the layer to
account for the shear strain generated. Known as the equivalent linear method
this calculation is still an elastic one but the modulus of the soil layers is not the
same as the small strain shear modulus derived from the shear wave velocity.
More recently DEEPSOIL, (Hashash et al 2011), has become available

Design of Earthquake Resistant Foundations

0 0.5 1 1.5 2
Period (sec).
Ground surface response
0 5 10 15 20
Frequency (Hz)
0 5 10 15 20
Frequency (Hz)
0 5 10 15 20
Frequency (Hz)
Figure 6.10 Response of an elastic soil layer overlying a deep layer of elastic
rock to an earthquake motion which comes through the rock and into the
soil. (Soil layer 20 m thick, with shear wave velocity 100 m/sec. and
damping of 5%, rock shear wave velocity 2000 m/sec. and damping 5%.)
(a) Acceleration response spectra for the rock motion and the ground
surface response. (b) Fourier amplitude spectrum of the rock motion. (c)
Amplification function for the elastic soil layer. (d) Fourier amplitude
spectrum of the ground surface response.

with the capability of linear, equivalent linear, and several approaches to truely
nonlinear modelling of soil stress-strain behaviour. Some of these nonlinear
methods are based on representing data in Figures 3.24 and 4.41 using
hyperbolic relationships like that shown in Figure 3.17. Figure 6.11 presents
the results of calculating the response of the soil layer / rock layer combination
discussed above to the passage of the same earthquake motion as used in

Chapter 6: Earthquake induced foundation actions

0 1 2 3 4
Period (sec).
T =0.27 sec. natural period of soil layer
0 1 2 3 4
Period (sec)
T =0.27 sec. natural period of soil layer

Figure 6.11 Nonlinear response of a soil layer overlying rock to vertically
propagating earthquake waves. (a) Calculations using the equivalent linear
method, (b) using a fully nonlinear calculation approach.

developing Figure 6.10. The calculations plotted in Figure 6.11a were done
using an equivalent linear method and those in 6.11b using a nonlinear
approach. The purpose of the calculations was to illustrate the effect of scaling
the input earthquake time history. Three motions are applied to the system: 0.3,
1.0 and 3.0 times the original motion (that is every acceleration value is
multiplied by a scaling factor); thus there is a factor of 10 between the weakest
and strongest motions. If the system behaved in a linear elastic manner the
shapes of the response spectra would all be the same with the ordinates scaled
according to the scale factors. Nonlinear behaviour will produce a different
result, which both parts of Figure 6.11 demonstrate. First the peak response
occurs at a period which is longer than the small strain period of the soil layer,
0.27 second. Both parts of the figure show a progressive lengthening of the
period at peak response as the scaling factor increases; at the scaling factor of
0.3 the period of peak response is only just a little greater than 0.27 seconds.
Even more important, though, is the fact that the peak spectral acceleration
does not increase in a linear manner with scaling. It is apparent, particularly for
the nonlinear results in Figure 6.11b that as the level of earthquake acceleration
increases the peak spectral acceleration does not increase in the same
proportion. Thus, for sufficiently severe earthquake motion, nonlinear soil
behaviour reduces the response at the surface of the soil. Figure 6.11, then, is
demonstrating the effect illustrated in Figure 6.7.

6.1.4 Two and three dimensional site response

The calculations discussed in section 6.1.3 are possible with modest computer
resources because the direction of wave propagation is restricted to vertical.
However, actual earthquake motion will be more complex involving
Design of Earthquake Resistant Foundations

propagation in two or three dimensions. This means that only when there is an
abrupt change in layer properties can the one-dimensional model be useful.

Given the sophisticated computer resources presently available it is possible to
calculate routinely the elastic response of valleys and basins. In fact, the
challenge is about defining the three dimensional geometry of the soil deposit
and the wave velocities of the oils. Such studies provide useful insight, see for
example Bard and Bouchon (1985) and Rial et al (1992), which show that
natural frequencies for two and three dimensional configurations are different
from the one-dimensional values. Thus it should not be expected that
earthquake response spectra will have peaks corresponding to the peaks in
Figure 6.9a and 6.10c.

The nonlinear response of two and three dimensional systems can, in principle,
also be calculated but such endeavours are well beyond engineering design


The ground motion measured during an earthquake can be expressed as a
multi-directional random, or pseudo-random, signal of acceleration, velocity
and displacement. The motion typically lasts for some tens of seconds to a
minute or so. Design of buildings and foundations to resist these motions, in
the first instance, adopts a pseudo-static viewpoint in which a base shear and
moment are obtained from a loadings standard.

In NZ this information is obtained from the document: NZS 1170.5:2004
"Earthquake Actions New Zealand. In Europe it is given in Eurocode 8:
Design of Structures for Earthquake Resistance (2003). In the United States
the Uniform Building Code (1997) and more recently Federal Emergency
Management Agency documents: FEMA 356 Prestandard and commentary
for the seismic rehabilitation of buildings (2000) and FEMA 368 NEHRP
Recommended provisions for seismic regulations for new buildings and other
structures (2000), as well as other documents, deal with these actions. A
summary of the various Japanese requirements is given by Hamada et al (2000).

Despite this pseudo-static approach the frequency content of an earthquake
motion can be important. A typical earthquake record can be regarded as the
superposition of motions with periods in the range of about 0.10 to 10.0
seconds. The standard technique for obtaining information about the
frequency content of an earthquake is to use the so-called response spectrum.
This a plot showing the peak response generated by the ground motion. The
ground acceleration time history is used to compute the response of a series of
single degree of freedom "structures" of differing periods. The calculations are
done for each period of the single degree of freedom model by computing the
response for the entire earthquake time history; the peak response for that
period is then plotted as one point on the response spectrum. Clearly the
amount of computation required is considerable and requires a computer for

Chapter 6: Earthquake induced foundation actions

Figure 6.12 Concept of the Acceleration Response Spectrum (after Seed
and Idriss (1969).
Design of Earthquake Resistant Foundations

evaluation When the period of one of these oscillators corresponds with a
period that contains a significant portion of the earthquake energy then there
will be a peak in the response spectrum. In this way the response spectrum can
be considered as a representation of the frequency content of an earthquake.
The concept is illustrated in Figure 6.12.

The peak ground acceleration is read off from the response spectrum as the
zero period ordinate. For the El Centro record, used as the basis of the
illustration of the concept in Figure 6.12, this is a little in excess of 0.3g. The
peak ground acceleration depends on the magnitude of the earthquake (amount
energy released), distance of the site at which the recording is made from the
hypocentre and, as discussed above, the nature of the ground conditions at the

A loadings standard uses a number of terms in arriving at a design base shear
for a particular structure. The shear force at foundation level (base shear) is
given by:

H = C(T)W
where: H is the base shear,
is the vertical load (the sum of the permanent load plus the
appropriate imposed load).
C(T) is a dimensionless spectral shape factor coefficient which is a
function of the structural period, T.

We will follow, for illustrative purposes, the provisions of NZS 1170.5 (2004)
herein, although other loading standards follow similar approaches. The
coefficient C(T) is a coefficient given by:

1 1 1
( ) ( ) ( , )
C T C T ZRN T D = (6.2)
where: T
is the first mode period of the structure
) is the basic seismic hazard acceleration coefficient given in NZS
Z is the hazard factor (maps the expected distribution of seismic
severity across the country),
R is the return period factor,
and N(T
,D) is the near fault factor (D is the distance to the fault).

An alternative approach, used particularly for non-standard structures, is to
compute the time history of the response of a numerical model of the structure
to a design ground motion. From this the complete time history of the
foundation actions is obtained, in which case slightly different spectra are used.
In this case the stiffness and capacity of the foundation elements needs to be
modeled along with the numerical model for the above ground part of the
structure. The challenge here is to develop an effective model of the whole
structure/foundation system.

Chapter 6: Earthquake induced foundation actions
6.2.1 New Zealand Design code seismic hazard acceleration coefficients

Categorization of recorded earthquake motions in the form of Figure 6.5 is the
basis of the seismic hazard acceleration coefficients in loading standards.

The form of the spectral shape factor curves in NZS1170.5 is given in Figure
6.13 for elastic response. The four curves are for rock, stiff soil, deep soil and
very soft soil. These curves are used when the equivalent static method is being
followed in design. When the design is based on time history calculations the
form of the curves is different at low periods. Additionally designers often
intend a ductile response for the structure under the design earthquake. This
involves a reduction in the spectral acceleration because the elastic spectrum is
divided by the ductility and a performance factor, which is less than unity, is
also applied. Figure 6.14 compares the elastic spectrum for a soil profile with
that for a ductility of three and a performance factor of 0.67. It is clear, that at
the expense of structural damage, designing the structure for ductility reduces
the earthquake actions in the structure and also on the foundation.

In the last 20 years or so earthquake events have been recorded at many
accelerographs in the vicinity of the event. This has lead to better
understanding of the spread of earthquake motions and the attenuation of the
motion with distance from the fault generating the motion. What has emerged
from examination of these records is that the intensity of the motion varies not
only with distance from the causative fault but also with angular orientation
with respect to the fault plane, in particular the directions parallel to the fault
and those normal to it. The distribution of energy is more concentrated along
the fault parallel direction that in the normal direction. Furthermore the
shaking intensity is more severe for rupture towards a site than away from it,
Somerville et al (1997), Abrahamson (2000) and Bray (2006). The near fault
term in equation 6.2 makes some allowance for these effects in specifying the
design acceleration.

Design of Earthquake Resistant Foundations

0 1 2 3 4 5
Period (sec)



Figure 6.13 Spectral shape factor curves for equivalent static design from
NZS1170.5 (2004). The curves are for rock, shallow soil, deep soil and very
soft soil.

0 1 2 3 4 5
Period (sec)



Figure 6.14 Comparison between the NZS 1170.5 elastic shallow soil curve
and that for a ductility of 3 with a performance factor of 0.67.

Chapter 6: Earthquake induced foundation actions
0 1 2 3 4 5
Period (sec)




Figure 6.15 NZS1170.5 (2004) spectral shape factor curves for displacement
based design obtained from the acceleration coefficient curves in Figure
6.13. The curves are for rock, shallow soil, deep soil and very soft soil.

6.2.2 EC8 seismic hazard acceleration coefficients

The way in which the seismic hazard curves work in Europe is explained by
Fardis et al (2005). EuroCode 8 has five ground classes, detailed herein in
Table 6.1, and Figure 6.16 gives the coefficient curves for these ground
classes. For these there are different seismic hazard curves as shown in Figure
6.16. The curves presented in Figure 6.16 have the same general form as those
in NZS1170.5. However, EC8 gives two levels of these curves, those plotted in
Figure 6.16 are for a so-called Type 1 EQ (magnitude > 6.5), there are separate
curves for Type II events (lesser magnitude events).

Design of Earthquake Resistant Foundations


Table 6.1 Ground types defined in EC8

Chapter 6: Earthquake induced foundation actions
0 1 2 3 4

Figure 6.16 Curves of seismic hazard coefficients specified in EC8 (Type 1
EQ, Ms >5.5)


In Figure 6.12 the single degree of freedom structures are shown as being
rigidly fixed to the ground. When a structure is founded on a soil profile the
foundation flexibility contributes to the response of the system. In using the
seismic hazard coefficient curves, such as those in Figures 6.10 and 6.13, the
period used is not simply that of the structure but includes the effect of the
foundation flexibility. This is know as soil-structure interaction and Figure 2.9
illustrates how, because of soil-structure interaction, the foundation response is
a little different from the free field response. Figure 6.8 illustrates how the
bedrock motion is modified by the soil layers (site effect); this will be further
modified by the interaction between the structure-foundation system with the
soil adjacent to the foundation.


For comparative purposes the following is some brief information about wind
and wave loading.

6.4.1 Wind loading

Peak wind loading conditions, like a major earthquake, are relatively rare
occurrence. As with earthquake loading the return period is also used when
specifying a design wind loading event.

Design of Earthquake Resistant Foundations


Figure 6.17 Wind loading spectrum for a tall building. (a) Translational and
(b) rotational modes. (after Dalgliesh (1982)).

Unlike earthquake loading, a structure will be subjected to wind loading, of less
than the maximum design levels, over the whole of the design life. Thus the
foundation must perform satisfactorily under very large numbers of low
intensity cycles of loading.

The frequency of wind loading becomes important for tall flexible structures
which can be excited by the shedding of vortices. The flexibility of the
foundation system may contribute to or inhibit this effect. An example of the
wind loading spectrum applied to a very tall building is given in Figure 6.17,
Dalgliesh (1982).

Comparison of Figures 6.4 and 6.9 with 6.14 illustrates the difference in
frequency content between wind and earthquake loading.

6.4.2 Wave Loading

Wave loading, like wind loading, occurs at a low level right through the design
life of an offshore structure. Severe events, which determine the maximum
loadings, are rare just the same as is the design earthquake and the design wind

Wave loading is important in the design of harbour facilities and for walls
protecting the shoreline against waves. However, the most significant offshore
structures are associated with the oil and gas industry. These are of two types:
gravity platforms which sit on the sea bed and pile supported platforms. As
Chapter 6: Earthquake induced foundation actions
structures these are amongst the biggest that the civil engineer encounters,
Figure 6.18 compares one of the North Sea gravity platforms with the New
York skyline.

Wind and wave loading also differ from an earthquake in the duration of an
event. Whereas a large earthquake is over in minute or so in duration a wind
or wave storm may continue for hours and even, in a very extreme event, for
days. The most significant difference between earthquake and wave loading is,
once again, the frequency content. Wave periods, like the wind loading
periods, are several seconds and longer. Figure 6.19 gives the results of wave

Figure 6.18 Stratford B gravity structure compared with the United Nations
Building and the Manhattan skyline (after DiBiagio and Hoeg (1983)).

Figure 6.19 Frequency content of waves in the North Sea (after Hassleman et
al (1973)).
Design of Earthquake Resistant Foundations

in the North Sea off the northern coast of Germany reported by Hasselmann
et al (1973). It is apparent that the wave activity peaks for periods in the 4 to
5second range. The ordinate in the diagram is related to the wave height
Further offshore in the open ocean wave heights in a severe storm will increase
and the periods lengthen from those shown in Figure 6.19.


In ultimate limit state design we require that the capacity of the system is
greater than the demand. By capacity we mean the strength that can be
mobilised if all the shear strength of the soil is used. By demand we mean the
actions that are applied to the foundation by the loads imposed by the
structure. However, things are not quite as simple as they sound here. The
capacity is not an easily specified exact number because the soil properties are
variable hardly surprising for a natural material. Similarly exact values for the
loads are not easily specified. Thus our ultimate limit state design must take
account of two sources of uncertainty that of the ground properties and that
of the applied loadings. There are various approaches to ultimate limit state
design; this section deals with the one in use in NZ.

In New Zealand and elsewhere (for example Barker et al (1991) and in Canada
(Canadian Foundation Design Manual (2007)), Australia and North America)
the Load and Resistance Factor Design (LRFD) approach is used. The basic
equation is:

uR > Eo

are the applied loads.
R is the ideal
resistance (or strength).
are load factors.
u is the strength reduction factor
(Note that the usual symbol for
the strength reduction factor in limit state design is |. As this is
the standard symbol for the friction angle in geotechnical
engineering the symbol u is used herein.)

For the LRFD method the strength of the foundation is evaluated
with the actual values for the shear strength parameters and then the
strength value reduced by the application of the strength reduction
factor (a number less that unity).

To some extent the decision as to which method of ultimate limit
state design to use depends on what is being followed in other areas
such as structural design. Structural design in New Zealand is based
on an LRFD approach. The load factors are given in the Structural
Design Actions Standard (AS/NZS 1170:2002) and the various

This resistance is commonly referred to in several ways. Among them are theoretical
resistance, nominal resistance as well as ideal resistance.
Referred to as a Performance Factor or Resistance Factor in some documents.
Chapter 6: Earthquake induced foundation actions
materials standards give values for the strength reduction factors.
This being the case it is attractive to follow a LRFD approach in
foundation design so that all aspects of civil engineering design in
NZ are done on the same conceptual basis.

6.5.1 Provisions for the ultimate limit state design of

A factored load and resistance approach is in two parts; (i) the load
factors and load combinations, and (ii) the strength reduction
factors applied to the ideal strength and resistance.

AS/NZS 1170 uses the notation G for permanent actions, Q for
imposed actions, and E for earthquake actions.

When calculating design actions in accordance with AS/NZS 1170
the permanent load factor on active and K
earth pressures is 1.5
(clause 4.2.3f).

In many stability calculations the permanent load contributes to the
resistance which is generated by mobilised soil strength. In this case
a load factor on the permanent load of 0.9 is applicable in
accordance with clause 4.2.1 (a) of AS/NZS1170. This is
interpreted herein as applying to loads that come to the foundation
from external sources. However, the unit weight of the soil,
although a permanent load, is not factored. The factoring of the
unit weight of the soil is not followed in Eurocode 7 (EC7) as the
committee drafting that document have marshalled
severalarguments suggesting that this factor should always be unity,
Orr (1993c).

Table 6.2 Overview of factoring of actions for Ultimate Limit State
Geotechnical Design (AS/ NZS 1170)

Load condition Load factor
Permanent load only (G) 1.35 (AS/NZS
Permanent loads from soil weight 1.0
Permanent stabilising loads other than
soil weight
0.9 (AS/NZS1170)
Loads from water pressures 1.2 (AS/NZS 1170)
Imposed loads (Q) 1.5 (AS/NZS 1170)
Loads from earth pressures 1.5
Permanent load + Imposed load 1.2G + 1.5Q
(AS/NZS 1170)
Permanent load + Imposed load + EQ
1.0 (AS/NZS 1170.5)

Thus the application of the loads factors in geotechnical design is as
Design of Earthquake Resistant Foundations


For bearing capacity calculations the unit weight of the soil is not factored by
0.9 in either the N
or N

terms of the bearing capacity equation.

For the design of foundations under static conditions the following
load factoring is recommended:

- Active and K
thrusts are factored by 1.5 when determining
the required proportions for the wall. In calculating these
thrusts the unit weight of the backfill is not also treated as a
permanent load and factored. (Note that passive thrusts are
part of the resistance and so are not treated with load

- The weight of the wall acts to promote the stability by
generating sliding resistance. However, many retaining wall
applications the weight of the wall behaves in the same
manner as the weight of the backfill, for example a cantilever
wall, because of this the weight of the wall is not factored by

- Any additional permanent loads which assist stability, eg
from an adjacent building which will be in place for the
design life of the foundation, are factored by 0.9.

- If there is some surcharge in front of the wall, even though
this is considered as contributing to the resistance, the unit
weight of this is not factored by 0.9.

- For the design of pile foundations dragdown loads are
factored as a static permanent load.

- In AS/NZS 1170 imposed load reduction factors are
specified (clause A3.1.1 in the standard). These allow for the
fact that not all parts of a structure will have full imposed
loading acting simultaneously. For example the design of a
floor slab for an office would be designed for full imposed
load as would the beams supporting that part of the floor
slab. But for a multi-storey building the foundation design
would not assume that full imposed load was carried by
every square metre of each floor and that these are summed
over the number of floors to get the foundation actions. So
in estimating foundation design actions one applies all the
permanent load from the structure and a portion of the
distributed imposed load.

Chapter 6: Earthquake induced foundation actions
6.5.2 Earthquake actions for ultimate and serviceability limit

In this course we will only touch on earthquake actions on
foundations, but for completeness the following comment is
included. Earthquake actions are specified in NZS 1170.5 under two
headings: E
for ultimate limit state and E
for serviceability limit
states. The ultimate limit state actions are evaluated as set-out in
section 3.1 and 5.2.1 of NZS 1170.5. These estimates may include
the possibility that the structure will respond to the earthquake in a
ductile manner. For the serviceability limit state the structure is
assumed to respond elastically and the actions are evaluated for the
largest translational period of vibration of the structure, following
again what is specified in section 3.1 of NZS 1170.5. But in addition
a value of 0.7 for the Structural Performance Factor, clause
of NZS 1170.5, is applied to the actions.

Evaluating the response of a foundation to serviceability limit state
earthquake actions requires estimating the immediate cyclic
deformations induced by the earthquake actions on the foundations
(we will see in Chapter 10 how this can be done by assuming elastic
behaviour of the soil beneath the foundation, undrained for
cohesive soils). These cyclic deformations are then superimposed on
the static deformations of the foundation (usually settlement).

Combinations of actions for ultimate limit states
Furthermore the factors applied to actions are adjusted when there
are combinations of actions applied, for example: permanent
actions, imposed actions and earthquake actions, or permanent
actions, imposed actions and wind actions.
- Table 4.1 of AS/NZS 1170.0 gives the combination factor,

, as 0.4.
- Section 4.2 of NZS 1170.5 gives the combination factor
when earthquake loads are involved,
, as 0.3.

Some examples of combinations, fleshing out those in clause 4.2.2
of NZS 1170.5, are:

ULS Permanent action only: 135 . G

(Note that for this case we have an area reduction factor (if
applicable) and long term reduction factor (if applicable), but there
is no combination factor.)

ULS Permanent plus short term imposed action:
12 15
. G . Q + +

ULS Permanent plus long term imposed action:
12 15
. G . Q + +

Design of Earthquake Resistant Foundations

ULS Permanent, imposed and wind actions:
+ + + +
c a u

ULS Permanent, imposed and earthquake actions:
+ + + +
c _ EQ a u

SLS permanent and long term imposed actions:

a l
G Q + + +

SLS Permanent, imposed and earthquake actions:
+ + + +
a c _ EQ s

6.5.3 Strength Reduction Factors for Shallow Foundations

In New Zealand the Structural Design Actions Standard specifies
how actions are to be estimated and also how they are factored on
the right hand side of inequality 6.3. The strength reduction factors
for the left hand side of inequality 6.3 are specified in the various
materials standards.

Table 4.5 gives values of u for the design of shallow foundations
and retaining walls (u
is for the bearing capacity and u
for the
sliding ultimate limit state).

Sliding resistance depends directly on the tangent of the friction
angle. For passive pressures and bearing capacity the resistance is
not controlled directly by the tangent of the friction angle but by
complex functions which change very rapidly once the friction angle
is beyond the mid 30's. In addition the displacements required to
mobilise passive resistance and bearing capacity are large.

Table 6.3 Shallow foundation strength reduction factors
Strength reduction factors for the ultimate limit state in bearing (u
and for ultimate limit states involving passive earth pressure (u
Load combination Strength reduction factor range
Load combinations including
earthquake overstrength
0.80 - 0.90
All other load combinations 0.45 - 0.60

Strength reduction factors for sliding of shallow foundations (u
Load combination Strength reduction factor range
Load combinations including
earthquake overstrength
0.80 - 0.90
All other load combinations 0.80 - 0.90

Tentative strength reduction factor for embedded retaining walls (u
All load combinations 0.80

Chapter 6: Earthquake induced foundation actions
Table 6.4 Strength reduction factors for deep foundation design

Range of Values of u

Static load testing to failure 0.65 - 0.85
Static proof (not to failure) load testing 0.70 - 0.90
Static analysis using CPT data 0.45 - 0.65
Static analysis using SPT data in cohesionless soils 0.40 - 0.50
Static analysis using laboratory data for cohesive
0.45 - 0.55
Measurement during installation of proprietary
displacement piles, using well established in-house
0.50 - 0.65
Load combinations including earthquake
0.80 - 0.90

In this chapter the primary applications intended for the ultimate
limit state method are retaining walls and shallow foundations.
However, values of u values similar to those for shallow
foundations are given by Barker et al (1991) for deep foundations.
In addition Becker (1993) gives strength reduction factors for deep
foundations. The draft of AS 2159 (1993) gives a range of values for
(u pile capacity), Table 4.6 is modelled along the same lines.

6.5.4 Strength reduction factors for aseismic design

Taylor (1976) and Taylor and Williams (1979) explain, within the
context of the factor of safety approach, that design bearing
capacity factors of safety need to be reduced to account for the use
of factored loads. The value to be used depends on the particular
load combinations under consideration. Notwithstanding the
complication introduced by the use of various load combinations
Taylor suggested that design should proceed on the basis that the
overall factor of safety (including load factoring) for static
conditions should be about 3, about 2 for non-capacity design
earthquake loading, and 1.1 for capacity designed foundations.
For earthquake loading the u values given in Table 4.5 are used as
the earthquake load combinations in AS/NZS 1170 have unit load
factors (so the u values are roughly equivalent to a factor of safety
of 2). For capacity loading a u value of 0.9 is equivalent to the
previous recommendation of a factor of safety of 1.1.

Aseismic design of foundations is considered under two distinct
headings. There are foundations for capacity designed structures
and those for structures which are not designed for capacity actions.
For capacity design special actions are evaluated based on the
overstrength capacity of the structure, these actions give the
maximum loads that the structure could ever apply to the
foundation. When capacity design principles are not followed the
Design of Earthquake Resistant Foundations

ultimate capacity load combination consists of permanent loads plus
imposed load plus earthquake loads, that is the load factors are


The Partial Factor of Safety approach is used in Europe, Eurocode
7 (EC7, 2001), Orr (1993), Simpson and Driscoll (1998).

The traditional total factor of safety approach lumps the two
sources of uncertainty into one parameter, the factor of safety. The
partial factor of safety approach handles the uncertainly in the
loading by applying partial factors to the applied actions (generally
greater than unity) and the uncertainty in the shear strength of the
soil by applying partial factors to the shear strength properties. In
the case of the partial factor method the foundation strength is
evaluated using reduced values for the cohesion and friction angle.

9 > Eo

where: 9 is the resistance calculated using the design strength
parameters obtained by reducing the characteristic
strength values with partial factors of safety (ie (c')
and (tan|')
= tan|'/P
, or (s
= s
etc are the partial factors of safety. (Note that there is
more than one partial factor of safety.)
c' etc are the characteristic strength values (defined in EC7:
The characteristic value is a cautious estimate of the
mean value.)
etc are the design values of the strength parameter for
use with the partial factor of safety method.

The Partial factor approach has some appeal from the geotechnical point of view
in that the variability of frictional and cohesive shear strength parameters is
different, Figures 4.48, so that different partial factors can be applied to these
strength parameters.


Eurocode 8, Fardis et al (2005), has a list of suggestions under the heading of conceptual
design, considerations that are thought likely to produce more robust structures. The
items listed are:
- structural simplicity
- uniformity, symmetry and redundancy
Chapter 6: Earthquake induced foundation actions
- bi-directional resistance and stiffness
- torsional resistance and stiffness
- diaphragmatic behaviour at the storey level
- adequate foundations
Although the foundation is covered in the last bullet point, all the points relate to
foundation design. For example the structure is expected to have bi-directional
resisstance and stiffness (ie the direction of earthquake attack is not known so the
structure needs to have resistance available in all directions). Clearly the same
considerations should be applied to foundation design.
The book by Arnold and Reitherman (1982) provides many examples of building
configurations intended to provide robust performance during earthquake shaking.
They, too, make the point about regularity of configuration whenever possible.
It is regarded as good practice that foundation elements be tied together. The thinking
being that if for some reason one foundation element is in distress then the actions can
be passed along the tie beam to adjacent foundation elements. An example of this
practice, from Christchurch, is shown in Figure 6.20 from which it is seen that the tie
beams are quite substantial.
It is of note that part V of Eurocode 8 covers geotechnical matters and foundations.

Figure 6.20 Building founded on piles with tie-beams between which became
exposed following settlement of the upper parts of the soil profile during the February
22, 2011 earthquake.

Design of Earthquake Resistant Foundations


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[Chap6 12.doc 07/08/2012]