Integration of geological and geophysical data for re-evaluation of local seismic hazard and geological structure: the case study of Rometta, Sicily (Italy)

Paolo Pino, Sebastiano D'Amico, Barbara Orecchio, Debora Presti, Silvia Scolaro, Antonino Torre, Cristina Totaro, Daniela Farrugia, Giancarlo Neri


The village of Rometta, northern-eastern Sicily (Southern Italy), experienced severe damage during the most energetic earthquakes that occurred in eastern Sicily and southern Calabria in the last centuries. Geological maps indicate that Rometta primarily lies on a stiff plate of Upper Pliocene – Lower Pleistocene calcarenites and only to minor extent on Middle Pleistocene overlying clays. Rometta represents an interesting case study for site response investigation because of the apparent mismatch between the currently available geological knowledge and the level of damage caused by historical seismic events. The local seismic response has been investigated through a grid of 64 single-station measurements of ambient seismic noise by the Horizontal to Vertical Noise Spectral Ratio technique (H/V). Also, phase velocity dispersion curves from seismic array through the Extended Spatial Auto-Correlation method were analyzed. The H/V curves obtained show a ubiquitous frequency peak between 0.5 Hz and 0.9 Hz due to the deep interface between the metamorphic substrate and sedimentary sequence, and a secondary peak in the 2.5–15 Hz interval in most of the measurement points that may be related to a larger extent of the clay outcrops with respect to what is already known from geological investigations. Joint inversion of dispersion and H/V curves was also performed in order to obtain the velocity profile. Results acquired through the combined use of geophysical methods furnished useful information for seismic hazard evaluation where surface geology is not clearly visible because of urbanization and vegetation cover, thus suggesting that a wide extent of clays may reasonably be the cause of past earthquake damage distribution.


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Published by INGV, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia - ISSN: 2037-416X