Field missions: Garda region in Italy 2004
A team of JRC ELSA earthquake engineering experts travelled to the Lake Garda area in Italy on a mission to study the aftermaths of the earthquake that struck
The earthquake hit the area of Garda Lake, part of the Lombardy region in Italy, with a magnitude of 5.2 on the Richter scale. The earthquake represented an event of average relevance, with no major features of intensity, damage caused or casualties. However, at the local level, the effects of the earthquake were quite, especially in some municipalities where an intensity of VII-VIII on the MCS scale was reached.
The importance of the event, the vicinity of the area, the need to investigate the performance of buildings and structures to the earthquake called for a field mission by the ELSA Earthquake Engineering Staff. The mission consisted of a full-day trip to the area, and took place on 1 December 2004, one week after the event, when the effects of the earthquake and its consequences on the environment and the people were still evident.
The impact of the event was mainly confined at a local level. Damage of a certain extent developed only in older masonry structures, without engineered lateral load resistance and built with poor technology and bad quality workmanship. Old constructions, such as 200- or 300-year-old houses or churches, suffered significant damage: this was probably the worst consequence of the earthquake, in terms of local heritage.
The findings from the mission revealed seismic inadequacies of a relatively vast number of housing buildings, even in this rather well-developed area of Italy. The effects of good workmanship and structural detailing (such as the presence of ties) in avoiding major collapse even in relatively poor structures were also made clear; on the contrary, poor structural detailing and careless repair and/or change-of-use interventions turned out to be a major source of vulnerability, even for relatively good structures. Moreover, it was observed that even old buildings that had been retrofitted or partially rehabilitated shortly before the event suffered structural damage. This was due to the fact that the rehabilitation interventions had mainly been targeted to non-structural members and had been designed without taking into proper account the seismic hazard.
As for the impact on population, though, even if no casualties were originated by the event, the feeling of local authorities was that the importance of the consequences for a significant part of the local people was underrated or thoroughly neglected by the media which, to a certain extent, made it even more difficult for them to cope with the losses and the troubles.
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