A structural analysis in seismic archaeology: the walls of Noto and the 1693 earthquake

E. Guidoboni, P. Riva, V. Petrini, A. Madini Moretti, G. Lombardini


A crucial problenl for seismic archeology is how to recognize seismic effects and how to date them. On an experimental
basis. we proposed that the problem be reversed, and that we begin at the other end: i.e. by analyzing
already known seismic effects on ancient structures, testified by written sources. to be able to .calibrate>>
the types or possible observations and any subsequent elaborations. The choice of the walls of Noto was suggested
by the fact that Noto was abandoned following the earthquake of l693 (I,= XI MCS. Me 7.5) which
had already been studied in depth as part of an ING research programme (1988-92). Moreover, just after recent
research, this event proved to be reconstructed with a high quality standard. Photogrammetric measurements
were made on several parts of the town walls to plot a numerical model aimed at ascertaining specific
aspects of the earthquake damage. An estimate of the ground acceleration during the earthquake has been attempted
via non-linear finite-element analyses of a building located by the main city gate. The analyses show
that. in order to obtain the building vault collapse, a ground acceleration of 0.5 to 0.7 g had to be reached during
the earthquake. This result, typical of a strong earthquake such as the one of 1693, proves that an approach
based on finite element analysis and a sound engineering judgment Inay be systematically applied to historical
earthquake sites to obtain some estimates of ground acceleration in historical earthquakes. On the whole, this
work aimed at starting up the second development phase of the great event of 1693 of which the macroseismic
erfects are known. In the meantime, some possibilities of tackling structural analyses in seismic archaeology
are being explored.


Historical seismology;seismic archaeological;Noto (Sicily)

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.4401/ag-4101
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Published by INGV, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia - ISSN: 2037-416X