Margherita Palace Collapse

Forensic Structural Analysis -Earthquake

L’Aquila, Italy

During the 2009 L’Aquila earthquake, the tower of Santo Stefano di Sessanio, the town’s iconic symbol, collapsed to the ground. The tower was believed to have been rendered vulnerable to collapse because of 20th-century renovations to the tower’s observation platform, which replaced a wooden deck with one made of reinforced concrete, thus making the tower top-heavy.

In the current study, a numerical analysis was used for investigating the collapse behavior of the tower. Doing an initial elastic model of the tower did not allow any realistic prediction of the anomalous seismic behavior showed by the tower; the reason why only a stump of structure actually survived the earthquake remained unexplained.

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