An assessment of uncertainties in V S profiles obtained from microtremor observations in the phased 2018 COSMOS blind trials

Michael W. Asten, Alan Yong, Sebastiano Foti, Koichi Hayashi, Antony J. Martin, William J. Stephenson, John F. Cassidy, Jacie Coleman, Robert Nigbor, Silvia Castellaro, Kosuke Chimoto, Cécile Cornou, Ikuo Cho, Takumi Hayashida, Manuel Hobiger, Chun Hsiang Kuo, Albert Macau, E. Diego Mercerat, Sheri Molnar, Passakorn PananontMarco Pilz, Nakhorn Poovarodom, Esteban Sáez, Marc Wathelet, Hiroaki Yamanaka, Toshiaki Yokoi, Don Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Site response is a critical consideration when assessing earthquake hazards. Site characterization is key to understanding site effects as influenced by seismic site conditions of the local geology. Thus, a number of geophysical site characterization methods were developed to meet the demand for accurate and cost-effective results. As a consequence, a number of studies have been administered periodically as blind trials to evaluate the state-of-practice on-site characterization. We present results from the Consortium of Organizations for Strong Motion Observation Systems (COSMOS) blind trials, which used data recorded from surface-based microtremor array methods (MAM) at four sites where geomorphic conditions vary from deep alluvial basins to an alpine valley. Thirty-four invited analysts participated. Data were incrementally released to 17 available analysts who participated in all four phases: (1) two-station arrays, (2) sparse triangular arrays, (3) complex nested triangular or circular arrays, and (4) all available geological control site information including drill hole data. Another set of 17 analysts provided results from two sites and two phases only. Although data from one site consisted of recordings from three-component sensors, the other three sites consisted of data recorded only by vertical-component sensors. The sites cover a range of noise source distributions, ranging from one site with a highly directional microtremor wave field to others with omni-directional (azimuthally distributed) wave fields. We review results from different processing techniques (e.g., beam-forming, spatial autocorrelation, cross-correlation, or seismic interferometry) applied by the analysts and compare the effectiveness between the differing wave field distributions. We define the M index as a quality index based on estimates of the time-averaged shear-wave velocity of the upper 10 (VS10), 30 (VS30), 100 (VS100), and 300 (VS300) meters and show its usefulness in quantitative comparisons of VS profiles from multiple analysts. Our findings are expected to aid in building an evidence-based consensus on preferred cost-effective arrays and processing methodology for future studies of seismic site effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)757-780
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Seismology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • Ambient noise seismic
  • Array
  • Beam-forming
  • COSMOS guidelines
  • Cover thickness
  • Cross-correlation
  • Earthquake site hazard
  • M index
  • Microtremor
  • Passive seismic
  • SPAC
  • Seismic interferometry
  • V profiles


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