Seismological and geotechnical aspects of the Mw=6.3 l’Aquila earthquake in central Italy on 6 April 2009

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Giuseppe Lanzo, Giuseppe Di Capua, Robert E. Kayen, D. Scott Kieffer, Edward Button, Giovanna Biscontin, Giuseppe Scasserra, Paolo Tommasi, Alessandro Pagliaroli, Francesco Silvestri, Anna d'Onofrio, Crescenzo Violante, Armando Lucio Simonelli, Rodolfo Puglia, George Mylonakis, George Athanasopoulos, Vasil Vlahakis, Jonathan P. Stewart

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Abstract


The L’Aquila earthquake occurred on April 6 2009 at 03:32:39 local time. The earthquake (Mw=6.3) was located in the central Italy region of Abruzzo. Much of the damage occurred in the capital city of L’Aquila, a city of approximate population 73000, although many small villages in the surrounding region of the middle Aterno river valley were also significantly damaged. In the weeks following the earthquake, the Geo-Engineering Extreme Events Reconnaissance (GEER) international team, comprised of members from different European countries and the U.S., was assembled to provide post-earthquake field reconnaissance. The GEER team focused on the geological, seismological, and geotechnical engineering aspects of the event. We describe the principal seismological findings related to this earthquake including moment tensors of the main shock and two triggered events, the aftershock pattern and its variation with time, tectonic deformations associated with the main shock, surface fault rupture, and the inferred fault rupture plane. We describe damage patterns on a village-to-village scale and on a more local scale within the city of L’Aquila. In many cases the damage patterns imply site effects, as neighbouring villages on rock and soil had significantly different damage intensities (damage more pronounced on softer sediments). The April 6 mainshock was the best-recorded event to date in Italy. We present metadata related to the recording sites and then present preliminary comparisons of the data to GMPEs. Those comparisons support the notion of faster distance attenuation in Italy relative to the average for active regions as reflected in NGA GMPEs. Several incidents of ground failure are then discussed, including a number of rockfalls and minor landslides. Perhaps the most significant incidents of ground failure occurred at Lake Sinizzo, for which we describe a number of slumps and spreads around the lake perimeter. This is documented using field observations as well as LIDAR and bathymetric data.

Keywords


L’Aquila Earthquake, seismic source, ground motion parameters, site effects, ground failure, structural damage, dams, retaining structures



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