The 6 April 2009 Mw 6.3 earthquake (Imax=9–10, Mercalli–Cancani–Sieberg [MCS]) struck the Abruzzi region of central Italy, producing severe damage in the city of L’Aquila. There was heavy damage in the city, especially in the central city area where unusual features of the damage pattern were immediately evident. The aim of this study is to correlate the distribution and the severity of the damage with the geological setting of the area, taking into account the characteristics of the building stock through time.

Strong‐motion recordings and ambient noise measurements taken soon after the mainshock and during the entire aftershock sequence showed variability in ground‐motion amplification throughout the city. Factor of amplification (Fa) results are very high in the southern sector of the city, where the Limi Rossi del Colle dell’Aquila (LRCA) red silts outcrop, and quickly decrease northward, where LRCA is absent. This result correlates with the damage distribution to reinforced concrete (RC) buildings. In the southern sector the rate of collapse of RC buildings was 10%, versus 2% in the rest of the city. General conclusions highlight that the building stock of the city suffered different levels of damage that can be partially explained by the combination of building vulnerability and surface geology.

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