The specification of the near surface ground conditions is highly important for the design of civil constructions. These conditions determine primarily the ability of the foundation formations to bear loads, the stress – strain relations and the corresponding settlements, as well as the soil amplification and corresponding peak ground motion in case of dynamic loading. The static and dynamic geotechnical parameters as well as the ground-type/soil-category can be determined by combining geotechnical and geophysical methods, such as engineering geological surface mapping, geotechnical drilling, in situ and laboratory testing and geophysical investigations. The above mentioned methods were combined, through the Thalis ″Geo-Characterization″ project, for the site characterization in selected sites of the Hellenic Accelerometric Network (HAN) in the area of Crete Island. The combination of the geotechnical and geophysical methods in thirteen (13) sites provided sufficient information about their limitations, setting up the minimum tests requirements in relation to the type of the geological formations. The reduced accuracy of the surface mapping in urban sites, the uncertainties introduced by the geophysical survey in sites with complex geology and the 1D data provided by the geotechnical drills are some of the causes affecting the right order and the quantity of the necessary investigation methods. Through this study the gradual improvement on the accuracy of site characterization data is going to be presented by providing characteristic examples from a total number of thirteen sites. Selected examples present sufficiently the ability, the limitations and the right order of the investigation methods.
For the seismic action estimation according to Eurocode (EC8) one has to characterize site conditions and suitably estimate soil amplification and corresponding peak ground motion for the site. For this reason, as specified, one has to define a design spectrum through the ground-type/soil-category (S), and the peak ground acceleration (PGA) of the reference return period (TNCR) for the corresponding seismic zone and for structural technical requirements chosen by the designer. Ground type is defined through geophysical/geotechnical parameters, i.e. (a) the average shear wave velocity up to 30 meters depth, (b) the Standard Penetration Test blow-count, and (c) the undrained shear strength of soil. Through the “GEO-CHARACTERIZATION” THALIS-PROJECT we combine different geophysical and geotechnical methods in order to more accurately define the ground conditions in selected sites of the Hellenic Accelerometric Network (HAN) in the area of Crete Island. More specifically in the present efforts, geological information shear wave velocity and attenuation model calculated from seismic surface geophysical measurements is used. Additionally we utilize the ground acceleration recorded through HAN from intermediate depth earthquakes in the broader area of South Aegean Sea. Using the recorded ground motion data and the procedure defined in EC8, the corresponding elastic response spectrum is calculated for selected sites. The resulting information are compared with the values defined for the corresponding EC8 spectrum for the seismic zone comprising the island of Crete. As a final outcome of this work we intend to propose regional normalized elastic spectra for seismic design of structures and urban development planning and compare them with Eurocode.