Peculiar earthquake damage on a reinforced concrete building in San Gregorio (L’Aquila, Italy): site effects or building defects?
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In San Gregorio (L’Aquila, Italy) a three-story, reinforced concrete (RC) building had the first floor collapsed following the earthquake of April 6, 2009. The remaining two stories fell with a displacement in the horizontal projection of about 70 cm. This unusual behaviour is made more puzzling by the fact that buildings located at a short distance and with similar features had little or no damage reported. To understand the causes of the collapse we performed strong motion recordings, microtremor measurements, a detailed geological survey, a high-resolution geo-electrical tomography, a borehole with a down-hole test. On the building we performed a geometrical survey and laboratory tests on concrete cores. The acceleration and noise recordings have shown a high amplification with uphill-downhill direction. The geological survey has revealed the presence of co-seismic fractures on stiff soils. Geo-electrical tomography has shown an unexpected, strong discontinuity just below the building. Taking advantage of excavations in adjacent lots, we have highlighted rare cataclastic decimetric bands with a very low resistance material incorporated in well-stratified calcarenites. The same soft material has been founded in the borehole down to 17 m from ground level, showing a shear wave velocity that starts at 250 m/s, increases with depth and has an abrupt transition in calcarenites at 1,150 m/s. The surface geophysical measurements in the vicinity of the site have not shown similar situations, with flat HVSR curves as expected for a rock outcrop, except for a lateral extension of the soft zone. The analysis on the quality of the building materials has yielded values higher than average for the age and type of construction, and no special design or construction deficiencies have been observed. A strong, peculiar site effect thus appears to be the most likely cause of the damage observed.
KeywordsL’Aquila earthquake Structural damage RC building Site effects Strong motion recordings
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