The strong influence of lateral heterogeneities and of source properties on the spatial distribution of ground motion indicates that the traditional methods require an alternative when earthquake records are not available. The computation of broadband synthetic seismograms makes it possible, as required by a realistic modelling, to take source and propagation effects into account, fully utilizing the large amount of geological, geophysical and geotechnical data, already available. For recent earthquakes, where strong motion observations are available, it is possible to validate the modelling by comparing the synthetic seismograms with the experimental records. The realistic modelling of the seismic input has been applied to a first-order seismic zoning of the whole territory of several countries. Even though it falls in the domain of the deterministic approaches, the method is suitable to be used in new integrated procedures which combine probabilistic and deterministic approaches and allow us to minimize the present drawbacks which characterise them when they are considered separately. Detailed modelling of the ground motion for realistic heterogeneous media (up to 10 Hz) can be immediately used in the design of new seismo-resistant constructions and in the reinforcement of existing buildings, without having to wait for a strong earthquake to occur. The discrepancies between the ground responses computed with standard methods and the results of our detailed modelling cannot be ignored when formulating building codes and retrofitting the built environment.

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