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.

Online Material: Movie of wave propagation, waveform fits, and stable of station parameters.

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