High-frequency filtering of strong-motion records

Douglas, John and Boore, David M. (2011) High-frequency filtering of strong-motion records. Bulletin of Earthquake Engineering, 9 (2). pp. 395-409. ISSN 1573-1456

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Abstract

The influence of noise in strong-motion records is most problematic at low and high frequencies where the signal to noise ratio is commonly low compared to that in the mid-spectrum. The impact of low-frequency noise (<1 Hz) on strong-motion intensity parameters such as ground velocities, displacements and response spectral ordinates can be dramatic and consequentially it has become standard practice to low-cut (high-pass) filter strong-motion data with corner frequencies often chosen based on the shape of Fourier amplitude spectra and the signal-to-noise ratio. It has been shown that response spectral ordinates should not be used beyond some fraction of the corner period (reciprocal of the corner frequency) of the low-cut filter. This article examines the effect of high-frequency noise (>5 Hz) on computed pseudo-absolute response spectral accelerations (PSAs). In contrast to the case of low-frequency noise our analysis shows that filtering to remove high-frequency noise is only necessary in certain situations and that PSAs can often be used up to 100 Hz even if much lower high-cut corner frequencies are required to remove the noise. This apparent contradiction can be explained by the fact that PSAs are often controlled by ground accelerations associated with much lower frequencies than the natural frequency of the oscillator because path and site attenuation (often modelled by Q and κ, respectively) have removed the highest frequencies. We demonstrate that if high-cut filters are to be used, then their corner frequencies should be selected on an individual basis, as has been done in a few recent studies.