Bulletin of Earthquake Engineering

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 775–801 | Cite as

Assessment of a monumental masonry bell-tower after 2016 Central Italy seismic sequence by long-term SHM

  • Filippo Ubertini
  • Nicola Cavalagli
  • Alban Kita
  • Gabriele Comanducci
Original Research Paper


The response of the San Pietro monumental bell-tower located in Perugia, Italy, to the 2016 Central Italy seismic sequence is investigated, taking advantage of the availability of field data recorded by a vibration-based SHM system installed in December 2014 to detect earthquake-induced damages. The tower is located about 85 km in the NW direction from the epicenter of the first major shock of the sequence, the Accumoli Mw6.0 earthquake of August 24th, resulting in a small local PGA of about 30 cm/s2, whereby near-field PGA was measured as 915.97 cm/s2 (E–W component) and 445.59 cm/s2 (N–S component). Similar PGA values also characterized the two other major shocks of the sequence (Ussita Mw5.9 and Norcia Mw6.5 earthquakes of October 26th and 30th, respectively). Despite the relatively low intensity of such earthquakes in Perugia, the analysis of long-term monitoring data clearly highlights that small permanent changes in the structural behavior of the bell-tower have occurred after the earthquakes, with decreases in all identified natural frequencies. Such natural frequency decays are fully consistent with what predicted by non-linear finite element simulations and, in particular, with the development of microcracks at the base of the columns of the belfry. Microcracks in these regions, and in the rest of tower, are however hardly distinguishable from pre-existing ones and from the physiological cracking of a masonry structure, what validates the effectiveness of the SHM system in detecting earthquake-induced damage at a stage where this is not yet detectable by visual inspections.


Earthquake-induced damage detection Structural health monitoring Structural assessment Heritage structures Preventive conservation 



This project has received funding from the European Union’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation HORIZON 2020 under Grant Agreement No. 700395.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of PerugiaPerugiaItaly

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