Bulletin of Earthquake Engineering

, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 39–65 | Cite as

Performance of the Italian strong motion network during the 2009, L’Aquila seismic sequence (central Italy)

  • Elisa ZambonelliEmail author
  • Rita de Nardis
  • Luisa Filippi
  • Mario Nicoletti
  • Mauro Dolce
Original Research Paper


On April 6, 2009, the town of L’Aquila in the Abruzzo region (central Italy) was struck by a seismic event at 01:32 (UTC), of magnitude MW = 6.3. The mainshock was followed by a long period of intense seismic activity and within seven days after the mainshock there were seven events of magnitude MW ≥ 5 that occurred from April 6 to April 13. This long seismic sequence was characterized by a complex rupture mechanism that involved two major normal faults of the central Apennines: the Paganica and the Gorzano faults. The strong-motions of the mainshock were recorded by 64 stations of the Italian Strong-motion Network (RAN) operated by the National Civil Protection Department (DPC). Six stations of a local strong-motion array were working in NW L’Aquila suburb area. One of them, located at about 6 km from the Paganica fault surface tip-line, set up in trigger mode, recorded continuously for more than 20 min the mainshock and the aftershocks. Besides the mainshock, the RAN stations recorded in total 78 foreshocks and aftershocks of ML ≥ 3.5, during the period from January to December 2009. The corresponding waveforms provide the most extensive digital strong ground motion data set ever recorded in Italy. Moreover, the 48 three-component observations of events of magnitude MW ≥ 5, recorded at a distance less than 15 km from each of the major involved faults, provide a significant increasing of near-field records available for the Italian territory. Six days after the mainshock, the strong-motion dataset, referred to preliminary locations of the events with ML ≥ 4.0, was made available on the DPC web site ( and at the same time it was delivered to the ITACA database ( This dataset has been used by many authors in scientific papers and by engineers, geophysicists and geologists for professional technical works. In this paper, the present-day available strong-motion signals from the L’Aquila sequence and the performance of the Italian strong-motion network in terms of the number and quality of recorded data, the geometry and data transmission system are described. In addition the role of the temporary network that represents an extension of the permanent Italian strong-motion network, supporting the emergency response by civil protection authorities and improving the network coverage has been evaluated.


Strong-motion data Strong-motion network RAN Normal fault L’Aquila seismic sequence Apennines Central Italy 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elisa Zambonelli
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rita de Nardis
    • 1
    • 2
  • Luisa Filippi
    • 1
  • Mario Nicoletti
    • 1
  • Mauro Dolce
    • 1
  1. 1.Dipartimento della Protezione CivileRomeItaly
  2. 2.Laboratorio di Geodinamica e SismogenesiDipartimento di Scienze della Terra, Ud’A ChietiChietiItaly

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