Spectral-element simulations of seismic waves generated by the 2009 L'Aquila earthquake

Federica Magnoni, Emanuele Casarotti, Alberto Michelini, Antonio Piersanti, Dimitri Komatitsch, Daniel Peter, Jeroen Tromp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


We adopt a spectral-element method (SEM) to perform numerical simulations of the complex wavefield generated by the 6 April 2009 Mw 6.3 L'Aquila earthquake in central Italy. The mainshock is represented by a finite-fault solution obtained by inverting strong-motion and Global Positioning System data, testing both 1D and 3D wavespeed models for central Italy. Surface topography, attenuation, and the Moho discontinuity are also accommodated. Including these complexities is essential to accurately simulate seismic-wave propagation. Three-component synthetic waveforms are compared to corresponding velocimeter and strong-motion recordings. The results show a favorable match between data and synthetics up to ~0:5 Hz in a 200 km × 200 km × 60 km model volume, capturing features mainly related to topography or low-wavespeed basins. We construct synthetic peak ground velocity maps that, for the 3D model, are in good agreement with observations, thus providing valuable information for seismic-hazard assessment. Exploiting the SEM in combination with an adjoint method, we calculate finite-frequency kernels for specific seismic arrivals. These kernels capture the volumetric sensitivity associated with the selected waveform and highlight prominent effects of topography on seismic-wave propagation in central Italy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-94
Number of pages22
JournalBulletin of the Seismological Society of America
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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