Articles | Volume 10, issue 7
15 Jul 2010
 | 15 Jul 2010

Applying and validating the PTVA-3 Model at the Aeolian Islands, Italy: assessment of the vulnerability of buildings to tsunamis

F. Dall'Osso, A. Maramai, L. Graziani, B. Brizuela, A. Cavalletti, M. Gonella, and S. Tinti

Abstract. The volcanic archipelago of the Aeolian Islands (Sicily, Italy) is included on the UNESCO World Heritage list and is visited by more than 200 000 tourists per year. Due to its geological characteristics, the risk related to volcanic and seismic activity is particularly high. Since 1916 the archipelago has been hit by eight local tsunamis. The most recent and intense of these events happened on 30 December 2002. It was triggered by two successive landslides along the north-western side of the Stromboli volcano (Sciara del Fuoco), which poured approximately 2–3×107 m3 of rocks and debris into the Tyrrhenian Sea. The waves impacted across the whole archipelago, but most of the damage to buildings and infrastructures occurred on the islands of Stromboli (maximum run-up 11 m) and Panarea.

The aim of this study is to assess the vulnerability of buildings to damage from tsunamis located within the same area inundated by the 2002 event. The assessment is carried out by using the PTVA-3 Model (Papathoma Tsunami Vulnerability Assessment, version 3). The PTVA-3 Model calculates a Relative Vulnerability Index (RVI) for every building, based on a set of selected physical and structural attributes. Run-up values within the area inundated by the 2002 tsunami were measured and mapped by the Istituto Italiano di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV) and the University of Bologna during field surveys in January 2003. Results of the assessment show that if the same tsunami were to occur today, 54 buildings would be affected in Stromboli, and 5 in Panarea. The overall vulnerability level obtained in this analysis for Stromboli and Panarea are "average"/"low" and "very low", respectively. Nonetheless, 14 buildings in Stromboli are classified as having a "high" or "average" vulnerability. For some buildings, we were able to validate the RVI scores calculated by the PTVA-3 Model through a qualitative comparison with photographs taken by INGV and the University of Bologna during the post-tsunami survey. With the exception of a single structure, which is partially covered by a coastal dune on the seaward side, we found a good degree of accuracy between the PTVA-3 Model forecast assessments and the actual degree of damage experienced by buildings. This validation of the model increases our confidence in its predictive capability. Given the high tsunami risk for the archipelago, our results provide a framework for prioritising investments in prevention measures and addressing the most relevant vulnerability issues of the built environment, particularly on the island of Stromboli.

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