Site Effects Study in the Peshawar District using Seismic Noise

Shahid Ullah, Syed Waqar Younas, Muhammad Asim, Muhammad Fahad, Muhmmad Fahim


Surficial geology plays an important role during earthquakes in terms of its impact on the resulting ground shaking, referred to as site effects. Site effects influence the level of earthquake hazard and risk in a region. Peshawar, the provincial capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, is one of the most seismically active cities in Pakistan. However, it lacks any such seismic characterization. In this work, a seismic ambient noise study was performed in Peshawar using observations from a total of 92 stations. The seismic noise data is recorded using a broadband seismometer for a period of about 30 minutes at every station point. The fundamental resonance frequency and a first-order amplification based on the seismic noise recording are estimated using the method of Nakamura. First-order estimates of the amplification range from 1.0 to 7.0, whereas the resonance frequency ranges between 0.2 to 2.5 Hz. The results suggest a complex geological structure with low seismic impedance and deep soil deposits in Peshawar. The depth of soil deposits is estimated to be more than 300 m, leading to a potential amplification of low-frequency seismic waves. These findings are crucial for tall structures with fundamental vibration periods greater than 0.40 sec.


Doi: 10.28991/CEJ-2022-08-04-010

Full Text: PDF


Seismic Noise Peshawar; Site Effects; H/V Ratios.


Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (2022). Ministry of Planning, development & Special Initiatives, Government of Pakistan, Islamabad, Pakistan. Available online: (accessed on February 2022).

Building Code of Pakistan (BCP) (2007). Seismic Provisions. Ministry of Housing and Works, Pakistan: Islamabad. Available online: (accessed on January 2022).

Mahmood, K., Ahmad, N., Khan, U., & Iqbal, Q. (2020). Seismic hazard maps of Peshawar District for various return periods. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, 20(6), 1639–1661. doi:10.5194/nhess-20-1639-2020.

Ahmad, N. (2015). A note on the strong ground motions and behavior of buildings during 26th Oct. 2015 Afghanistan-Pakistan earthquake. Earthquake Engineering Center, UET Peshawar, Peshawar, Pakistan. Available online: (accessed on February 2022).

Ahmad, N., Ullah, S., & Waseem, M. (2019). Discussion of “Assessment of the Seismicity of Peshawar Region in Line with the Historical Data and Modern Building Codes (ASCE-07 and IBC3-2006)” by Shah et al. Journal of Earthquake Engineering. doi:10.1080/13632469.2019.1692743.

Spence, R., & So, E. (2009). Estimating shaking-induced casualties and building damage for global earthquake events. Technical Report, Cambridge: National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program, Cambridge Architectural Research, Cambridge, United Kingdom.

Nardone, L., Manzo, R., Galluzzo, D., Pilz, M., Carannante, S., Di Maio, R., & Orazi, M. (2020). Shear wave velocity and attenuation structure of Ischia island using broad band seismic noise records. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 401, 106970. doi:10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2020.106970.

Parolai, S., Maesano, F. E., Basili, R., Silacheva, N., Boxberger, T., & Pilz, M. (2019). Fingerprint Identification Using Noise in the Horizontal-to-Vertical Spectral Ratio: Retrieving the Impedance Contrast Structure for the Almaty Basin (Kazakhstan). Frontiers in Earth Science, 7, 336. doi:10.3389/feart.2019.00336.

Pilz, M., Parolai, S., Bindi, D., Saponaro, A., & Abdybachaev, U. (2014). Combining Seismic Noise Techniques for Landslide Characterization. Pure and Applied Geophysics, 171(8), 1729–1745. doi:10.1007/s00024-013-0733-3.

Ullah, S., Bindi, D., Pittore, M., Pilz, M., Orunbaev, S., Moldobekov, B., & Parolai, S. (2013). Improving the spatial resolution of ground motion variability using earthquake and seismic noise data: The example of Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan). Bulletin of Earthquake Engineering, 11(2), 385–399. doi:10.1007/s10518-012-9401-8.

Talha Qadri, S. M., Nawaz, B., Sajjad, S. H., & Sheikh, R. A. (2015). Ambient noise H/V spectral ratio in site effects estimation in Fateh jang area, Pakistan. Earthquake Science, 28(1), 87–95. doi:10.1007/s11589-014-0105-9.

Pilz, M., Parolai, S., Picozzi, M., & Zschau, J. (2011). Evaluation of proxies for seismic site conditions in large urban areas: The example of Santiago de Chile. Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, 36(16), 1259–1266. doi:10.1016/j.pce.2011.01.007.

Ullah, S., Bindi, D., Pilz, M., & Parolai, S. (2015). Probabilistic seismic hazard assessment of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, considering empirically estimated site effects. Annals of Geophysics, 58(1), 105. doi:10.4401/ag-6682.

Nakamura, Y. (1989). Method for dynamic characteristics estimation of subsurface using microtremor on the ground surface. Quarterly Report of RTRI (Railway Technical Research Institute), Tokyo, Japan, 30(1), 25–33.

Burbank, D. W., & Tahirkheli, R. K. (1985). The magnetostratigraphy, fission-track dating, and stratigraphic evolution of the Peshawar intermontane basin, northern Pakistan. Geological Society of America Bulletin, 96(4), 539-552. doi:10.1130/0016-7606(1985)96<539:TMFDAS>2.0.CO;2.

Kruseman, G. P., & Naqavi, S. A. H. Hydrology and ground water resources of the West Frontier Province Pakistan. WAPDA Hydrogeology directorate, Peshawar, Pakistan-Institute of Applied Geoscience, Delft, Netherlands. Available online: (accessed on March 2022).

Nizami, M. M. I. (1973). Reconnaissance soil survey of Peshawar vale (revised). 165, Soil Survey of Pakistan, Lahore, Pakistan.

Wald, D. J., & Allen, T. I. (2007). Topographic slope as a proxy for seismic site conditions and amplification. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 97(5), 1379–1395. doi:10.1785/0120060267.

Chen, Z., Burchfiel, B. C., Liu, Y., King, R. W., Royden, L. H., Tang, W., Wang, E., Zhao, J., & Zhang, X. (2000). Global Positioning System measurements from eastern Tibet and their implications for India/Eurasia intercontinental deformation. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 105(B7), 16215–16227. doi:10.1029/2000jb900092.

NORSAR Norway (2007). Seismic Hazard Analysis and Zonation for Pakistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan Meteorological Department, Islamabad, Pakistan. Available online: (accessed on January 2022).

Styron, R., & Pagani, M. (2020). The GEM Global Active Faults Database. Earthquake Spectra, 36(1_suppl), 160–180. doi:10.1177/8755293020944182.

Mitsuo Nokoshi, and Enjoy Igarashi. (1971). Amplitude characteristics of fine movement (Part 2). Journal of the seismological society of Japan, 24(1), 26-40. doi:10.4294/zisin1948.24.1_26.

Bard, P.Y. (1999) Microtremor measurements: a tool for site effect estimation? Proceedings of the Second International Symposium on the Effects of Surface Geology on Seismic Motion (December 1998), Yokohama, Japan, Vol. I–III, 1251–1279.

Parolai, S., & Richwalski, S. M. (2004). The importance of converted waves in comparing H/V and RSM site response estimates. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 94(1), 304–313. doi:10.1785/0120030013.

European Commission. (2004) Site effects assessment using ambient excitations, European research project. Programme for research, technological development and demonstration on "Energy, environment and sustainable development, 1998-2002, University Joseph Fourier, Grenoble, France. Available online: (accessed on February 2022).

Parolai, S., Bormann, P., & Milkereit, C. (2001). Assessment of the natural frequency of the sedimentary cover in the cologne area (Germany) using noise measurements. Journal of Earthquake Engineering, 5(4), 541–564. doi:10.1080/13632460109350405.

SESAME European Research Project. (2004). Guidelines for the implementation of the H/V spectral ratio technique on ambient vibrations. Measurements, processing and interpretations. European commission - Research general directorate project no. EVG1-CT-2000-0026, European Commission, Brussels, Belgium. Available online: HV_User_Guidelines.pdf (accessed on January 2022).

Konno, K., & Ohmachi, T. (1998). Ground-motion characteristics estimated from spectral ratio between horizontal and vertical components of microtremor. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 88(1), 228–241. doi:10.1785/bssa0880010228.

Full Text: PDF

DOI: 10.28991/CEJ-2022-08-04-010


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2022 Shahid Ullah, Syed Waqar Younas, Muhammad Asim

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.