, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 361-381
Date: 05 Dec 2009

Assessing Seismic Damage Through Stochastic Simulation of Ground Shaking: The Case of the 1998 Faial Earthquake (Azores Islands)

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In July 1998, an M w = 6.2 earthquake struck the islands of Faial, Pico and San Jorge (in the Azores Archipelago), registering VIII on the Modified Mercalli Intensity scale and causing major destruction in the northeastern part of Faial. The main shock was located offshore, 8 km North East of the island, and it triggered a seismic sequence that lasted for several weeks. The existing data for this earthquake include both the general tectonic environment of the region and the teleseismic information. This is accompanied by one strong-motion record obtained 15 km from the epicentre, the epicentre location of aftershocks, and a large collection of the damage inflicted to the building stock (as poor rubble masonry, of 2–3 storeys). The present study was carried out in two steps: first, with a finite-fault stochastic simulation method of ground motion at sites throughout the affected islands, for two possible locations of the rupturing fault and for a large number of combinations of rupture mechanisms (as a parametric analysis); secondly, the damage to buildings was modelled using a well-known macroseismic method that considers the building typologies and their associated vulnerabilities. The main intent was to integrate different data (geological, seismological and building features) to produce a scenario model to reproduce and justify the level of damage generated during the Faial earthquake. Finally, through validation of the results provided by these different approaches, we obtained a complete procedure for the parameters of a first model for the production of seismic damage scenarios for the Azores Islands region.