Frequency variation in site response as observed from strong motion data of the L’Aquila (2009) seismic sequence

  • R. PugliaEmail author
  • R. Ditommaso
  • F. Pacor
  • M. Mucciarelli
  • L. Luzi
  • M. Bianca
Original Research Paper


Previous works based mainly on strong-motion recordings of large Japanese earthquakes showed that site amplification and soil fundamental frequency could vary over long and short time scales. These phenomena were attributed to non-linear soil behaviour: the starting fundamental frequency and amplification were both instantaneously decreasing and then recovering for a time varying from few seconds to several months. The recent April 6, 2009 earthquake (M W 6.3), occurred in the L’Aquila district (central Italy), gave us the possibility to test hypotheses on time variation of amplification function and soil fundamental frequency, thanks to the recordings provided by a pre-existing strong-motion array and by a large number of temporary stations. We investigated the intra- and inter-event soil frequency variations through different spectral analyses, including time-frequency spectral ratios and S-Transform (Stockwell et al. in IEEE Trans Signal Process 44:998–1001, 1996). Finally, analyses on noise recordings were performed, in order to study the soil behaviour in linear conditions. The results provided puzzling evidences. Concerning the long time scale, little variation was observed at the permanent stations of the Aterno Valley array. As for the short time-scale variation, the evidence was often contrasting, with some station showing a time-varying behavior, while others did not change their frequency with respect to the one evaluated from noise measurements. Even when a time-varying fundamental frequency was observed, it was difficult to attribute it to a classical, softening non-linear behaviour. Even for the strongest recorded shocks, with peak ground acceleration reaching 0.7 g, variations in frequency and amplitude seems not relevant from building design standpoint. The only exception seems to be the site named AQV, where the analyses evidence a fundamental frequency of the soil shifting from 3 Hz to about 1.5 Hz during the mainshock.


Strong motion Subsoil non-linearity Horizontal to vertical spectral ratio Standard spectral ratio 1D modeling S-Transform 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Puglia
    • 1
    Email author
  • R. Ditommaso
    • 2
  • F. Pacor
    • 1
  • M. Mucciarelli
    • 2
  • L. Luzi
    • 1
  • M. Bianca
    • 2
  1. 1.Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e VulcanologiaMilanItaly
  2. 2.Di.S.G.G., University of BasilicataPotenzaItaly

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