Strong ground motion dataset

By Andrea Carolina Perez

Version 1.0






Published on

Jun 29, 2017


Strong ground motion is earthquake shaking which is capable of causing structural damage to buildings, bridges, and other infrastructure. Currently, strong ground motion data are scattered across the web on different sites. Each site has different parameters by which data for a given event and station can be searched and discovered. Each site also has different processing techniques and different formats for the acceleration records themselves. This can make it difficult for researchers and professionals to quickly and easily locate the ground motion records they need to complete their work. The purpose of this resource is to unify strong ground motion data into a single dataset which can be searched using a variety of parameters.

The following five databases are among the largest in the world for strong ground motion data. These were used as “source databases” for the dataset developed here:

PEER (Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research)

COSMOS (Consortium of Organizations for Strong-Motion Observation Systems)

CESMD (Center for Engineering Strong Motion Data)

ESD (European Strong-Motion Database) 

NIED (National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention) 

NGDC (National Geophysical Datacenter, now known as NCEI, National Centers for Environmental Information)                                                                                 


In order to facilitate comparison across these source databases, a standard set of parameters was needed which were common to most (or all) source databases. All databases contained basic identifying information. This was used as case information:

Case Information

1. Title: Year and name of the earthquake.

2. Experiment or Case ID: Name and code of the station.

3. Start Date: Year, month and day when the earthquake started; the format is yyyy-mm-dd.

4. End Date: Year, month and day when the earthquake ended; the format is yyyy-mm-dd.

5. Report: Related documentation.

6. Latitude: Latitude where the earthquake occurred (epicenter latitude).

7. Longitude: Longitude where the earthquake occurred (epicenter longitude).

8. Parameters: Contains the parameter table (see below).

9. Source: Name of the earthquake in the original database plus the name of that database.

10. Keywords: Country where the earthquake occurred.

11. Drawings/Diagrams: Drawing and diagram files needed to interpret the data.

12. Data: Files related to the strong ground motion record that were extracted from the original database. This includes acceleration histories, velocity histories, displacement histories, Fourier spectra, and response spectra.

13. Photos, Videos, etc.: Multimedia content (e.g. image showing histories, Fourier spectra, etc.).

14. Compiled by: Name of the group or person that compiled the database.

15. Compiled on: Date when data from the source database were downloaded.

Each row of this dataset represents exactly one station from one event. In addition to this identifying information, engineering parameters about the nature of the ground motion itself (site conditions, acceleration, velocity, etc.) and about the earthquake (fault type, magnitude, etc.) are also of importance. These parameters help users locate a record of interest based on specified criteria. Available parameters also vary between source databases. To define a set of “core parameters,” those which were common to at least 3/5 of the source databases were identified. These define what is referred to here as the core set of strong ground motion parameters. They are:


1. Name and source: Name of earthquake in the source database, name of source database.

2. Date: Year, month, and day of earthquake, the format is yyyy-mm-dd.

3. Time: Origin time of the earthquake in 24-hour format.

4. Magnitude: Magnitude of earthquake.

5. Magnitude type: Scale in which magnitude is measured; this can be Ms, ML, Mb or Unknown.

6. Fault mechanism: Type of fault movement that generated earthquake.

7. Epicenter latitude (degrees): Latitude where earthquake occurred.

8. Epicenter longitude (degrees): Longitude where earthquake occurred.

9. Hypocenter depth (km): Depth to earthquake hypocenter.

10. Station name.

11. Station code: Letters or numbers used in the source database to distinguish the station.

12. Station latitude.

13. Station longitude.

14. Epicentral distance (km): Distance between the epicenter and the station.

15. Station location description: Where the station in located in general terms; this can be in a free field, in a building ground level, or in a building basement.

14. Soil description: Type of soil where the station is located; this can be rock, stiff soil, soft soil, …

15. Orientation x (degrees): Azimuth (degrees with respect to north) to accelerometer x-axis.

16. Orientation y (degrees): Azimuth to accelerometer y-axis.

17. dt (sec): Record time-step.

18 / 19 / 20.  PGA (G): Peak Ground Acceleration along accelerometer x, y and z-axis (absolute value).

21 / 22 / 23.  PGV (mm/sec): Peak Ground Velocity along accelerometer x, y and z-axis (absolute value).

24 / 25 / 26. PGD (mm): Peak Ground Displacement along accelerometer x, y and z-axis.

27. EQ DataHub dataset: Link to a dataset on DataHub containing information related to the earthquake (e.g. reconnaissance).

Currently, this dataset includes ground motions with peak ground acceleration (PGA) greater than 0.1 G coming from earthquakes of magnitude (Mw) greater than 6.0. The dataset also includes ground motion data from events for which there are DataHub resources (e.g. reconnaissance data).

Cite this work

  • Andrea Carolina Perez (2017), "Strong ground motion dataset,"