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Performance of masonry buildings during the Emilia 2012 earthquake


The earthquake sequence started on May \(20\)th 2012 in Emilia (Italy) affected a region where masonry constructions represent a large part of the existing building stock and the construction of new modern masonry buildings is a common practice. The paper is focused on the performance of common architectural configurations, typical for residential or business use. The large majority of old masonry buildings is made of fired clay bricks. The seismic performance of these buildings is particularly interesting since major past earthquakes in Italy affected areas with mainly stone masonry structures. Apart from examples showing systematic or peculiar structural deficiencies governing the vulnerability of several buildings, the overall seismic performance of these structures to repeated shaking, with PGA as large as 0.25–0.3 g was rather good, despite the major part of them were only conceived for carrying vertical loads. In fact, seismic design is mandatory in the area only since 2003. Modern low-rise masonry buildings erected after this date and incorporating seismic design and proper detailing resulted in most cases practically undamaged. The examples reported in the paper allow an evaluation of the superior performance of seismically designed modern masonry buildings in comparison to older ones.

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The authors would like to acknowledge the contribution of Stefano Bracchi, Alessandro Galasco and Michele Palmieri, who voluntarily participated to the surveys, also providing a fundamental contribution to the Civil Protection Department for the post-earthquake damage survey, and the help of Francesco Graziotti, who also contributed to the critical discussion on the observed damages and Martina Mandirola and Annalisa Rosti who also helped in the organisation of the collected information. Sincere thanks are finally due to Francesca Bozzoni and Prof. Carlo Lai, for providing the estimated values of peak ground acceleration experienced at the sites where the different considered damaged buildings were located.

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Correspondence to Guido Magenes.

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Penna, A., Morandi, P., Rota, M. et al. Performance of masonry buildings during the Emilia 2012 earthquake. Bull Earthquake Eng 12, 2255–2273 (2014).

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  • 2012 Emilia earthquake
  • Masonry buildings
  • Vulnerability
  • Clay brick
  • Seismic design