Lessons from April 6, 2009 L’Aquila earthquake to enhance microzoning studies in near-field urban areas

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This study focuses on two weak points of the present procedure to carry out microzoning study in near-field areas: (1) the Ground Motion Prediction Equations (GMPEs), commonly used in the reference seismic hazard (RSH) assessment; (2) the ambient noise measurements to define the natural frequency of the near surface soils and the bedrock depth. The limitations of these approaches will be discussed throughout the paper based on the worldwide and Italian experiences performed after the 2009 L’Aquila earthquake and then confirmed by the most recent 2012 Emilia Romagna earthquake and the 2016–17 Central Italy seismic sequence. The critical issues faced are (A) the high variability of peak ground acceleration (PGA) values within the first 20–30 km far from the source which are not robustly interpolated by the GMPEs, (B) at the level 1 microzoning activity, the soil seismic response under strong motion shaking is characterized by microtremors’ horizontal to vertical spectral ratios (HVSR) according to Nakamura’s method. This latter technique is commonly applied not being fully compliant with the rules fixed by European scientists in 2004, after a 3-year project named Site EffectS assessment using AMbient Excitations (SESAME). Hereinafter, some “best practices” from recent Italian and International experiences of seismic hazard estimation and microzonation studies are reported in order to put forward two proposals: (a) to formulate site-specific GMPEs in near-field areas in terms of PGA and (b) to record microtremor measurements following accurately the SESAME advice in order to get robust and repeatable HVSR values and to limit their use to those geological contests that are actually horizontally layered.




Vessia, G., Rainone, M. L., De Santis, A., & D’Elia, G. (2020). Lessons from April 6, 2009 L’Aquila earthquake to enhance microzoning studies in near-field urban areas. Geoenvironmental Disasters, 7(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40677-020-00147-x

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