Original Research Paper

Bulletin of Earthquake Engineering

, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 347-362

First online:

Site effects of the 2002 Molise earthquake, Italy: analysis of strong motion, ambient noise, and synthetic data from 2D modelling in San Giuliano di Puglia

  • A. StrolloAffiliated withGeoForschungsZentrum PotsdamUniversity of PotsdamDiSGG University of Basilicata Email author 
  • , S. M. RichwalskiAffiliated withGeoForschungsZentrum PotsdamCenter for Disaster Management and Risk Reduction Technology (CEDIM)
  • , S. ParolaiAffiliated withGeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam
  • , M. R. GallipoliAffiliated withDiSGG University of BasilicataIMAA-CNR Tito Scalo
  • , M. MucciarelliAffiliated withDiSGG University of Basilicata
  • , R. CaputoAffiliated withDiSGG University of Basilicata

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On 31 October and 1 November 2002, the Basso Molise area (Southern Italy) was struck by two earthquakes of moderate magnitude (M L =  5.4 and 5.3). The epicentral area showed a high level of damage, attributable both to the high vulnerability of existing buildings and to site effects caused by the geological and geomorphological settings. Specifically, the intensity inside the town of San Giuliano di Puglia was two degrees higher than in neighbouring towns. Also, within San Giuliano di Puglia, the damage varied notably. The site response in the city was initially evaluated from horizontal-to-vertical spectral ratios (HVSR) from a limited number of strong motion recordings of the most severe aftershocks. Several microtremor measurements were also available. Both data sets indicated the simultaneous presence of two amplification peaks: one around 6 Hz, attributed in previous studies to the strong, shallow impedance contrast among landfill/clay and calcarenites, and one at 2 Hz related to the first S-wave arrivals and predominantly seen only on one receiver component. Further studies performed on weak-motion recordings also showed strong amplification on the vertical receiver component, thus indicating an underestimation of the amplification by the HVSR technique. Additionally, a 2D-model of the geology of the sub-surface was developed, reproducing the flower-shaped structure generated during the late orogenic transpressive regime. The numerical (finite-difference hybrid) simulation reproduced the two peaks of the observed data at slightly higher frequencies. The model also confirmed that the borders of the flower structure define a boundary between amplification levels, with higher amplification inside.


Molise earthquake Seismic damage Site amplification Spectral ratio 2D modelling