Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Likely near-simultaneous earthquakes complicate seismic hazard planning for Italy


Before the shaking from one earthquake ends, shaking from another might begin, amplifying the effect of ground motion. Such sequences of closely timed, nearly overlapping, consecutive earthquakes account for devastating seismic events in Italy's history and should be taken into account when building new structures, according to research published in the September issue of the journal Seismological Research Letters (SRL).

"It's very important to consider this scenario of earthquakes, occurring possibly seconds apart, one immediately after another," said co-author Anna Tramelli, a seismologist with the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia in Naples, Italy.

"Two consecutive mainshocks of magnitude 5.8 could have the effect of a magnitude 6 earthquake in terms of energy release. But the effect on a structure could be even larger than what's anticipated from a magnitude 6 earthquake due to the longer duration of shaking that would negatively impact the resilience of a structure."

Historically, multiple triggered mainshocks, with time delays of seconds to days, have caused deadly earthquakes along the Italian Apennine belt, a series of central mountain ranges extending the length of Italy.

The 1997-98 Umbria-March seismic sequence numbered six mainshocks of moderate magnitude, ranging M 5.2 – 6.0. The 1980 Irpinia earthquakes included a sequence of three events, occurring at intervals within 20 seconds of each other. The 2012 Emilia sequence started with an M 5.9 event, with the second largest mainshock (M 5.8) occurring nine days later, and included more than 2000 aftershocks.

In this study, Tramelli and her colleagues used the recorded waveforms from the 2012 Emilia seismic sequence to simulate a seismic sequence that triggered end-to-end earthquakes along adjacent fault patches, observing the affect of continuous ruptures on the resulting ground motion and, consequently, its impact on critical structures, such as dams, power plants, hospitals and bridges.

"We demonstrated that consecutively triggered earthquakes can enhance the amount of energy produced by the ruptures, exceeding the design specifications expected for buildings in moderate seismic hazard zones," said Tramelli, whose analysis suggests that the shaking from multiple magnitude 5.0 earthquakes would be significantly greater than from an individual magnitude 5.0 event.

And back-to-back earthquakes are more than theoretical, say the authors, who note that this worst-case scenario has happened at least once in Italy's recent history. Previous studies identified three sub-events at intervals of 20 seconds in the seismic signals recorded during the 1980 Irpinia earthquake sequence, whose shared ground motion caused more than 3000 deaths and significant damage to structures.

A "broader and modern approach" to seismic risk mitigation in Italy, suggest the authors, would incorporate the scenario of multiple triggered quakes, along with the present understanding of active fault locations, mechanisms and interaction.


"The 2012 Emilia (Italy) quasi-consecutive triggered mainshocks: implications for seismic hazard," will appear in the September issue of SRL, which is published by the Seismological Society of America.

Nan Broadbent | Eurek Alert!

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht USGS projects large loss of Alaska permafrost by 2100
01.12.2015 | United States Geological Survey

nachricht Climate Can Grind Mountains Faster Than They Can Be Rebuilt
01.12.2015 | University of Florida

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: How do Landslides control the weathering of rocks?

Chemical weathering in mountains depends on the process of erosion.

Chemical weathering of rocks over geological time scales is an important control on the stability of the climate. This weathering is, in turn, highly dependent...

Im Focus: How Cells in the Developing Ear ‘Practice’ Hearing

Before the fluid of the middle ear drains and sound waves penetrate for the first time, the inner ear cells of newborn rodents practice for their big debut. Researchers at Johns Hopkins report they have figured out the molecular chain of events that enables the cells to make “sounds” on their own, essentially “practicing” their ability to process sounds in the world around them.

The researchers, who describe their experiments in the Dec. 3 edition of the journal Cell, show how hair cells in the inner ear can be activated in the absence...

Im Focus: Climate study finds evidence of global shift in the 1980s

Planet Earth experienced a global climate shift in the late 1980s on an unprecedented scale, fuelled by anthropogenic warming and a volcanic eruption, according to new research published this week.

Scientists say that a major step change, or ‘regime shift’, in the Earth’s biophysical systems, from the upper atmosphere to the depths of the ocean and from...

Im Focus: Innovative Photovoltaics – from the Lab to the Façade

Fraunhofer ISE Demonstrates New Cell and Module Technologies on its Outer Building Façade

The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE has installed 70 photovoltaic modules on the outer façade of one of its lab buildings. The modules were...

Im Focus: Lactate for Brain Energy

Nerve cells cover their high energy demand with glucose and lactate. Scientists of the University of Zurich now provide new support for this. They show for the first time in the intact mouse brain evidence for an exchange of lactate between different brain cells. With this study they were able to confirm a 20-year old hypothesis.

In comparison to other organs, the human brain has the highest energy requirements. The supply of energy for nerve cells and the particular role of lactic acid...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

European Geosciences Union meeting: Media registration now open (EGU 2016 media advisory 1)

01.12.2015 | Event News

Urbanisation and migration from rural areas challenging agriculture in Eastern Europe

30.11.2015 | Event News

Fraunhofer’s Urban Futures Conference: 2 days in the city of the future

25.11.2015 | Event News

Latest News

USGS projects large loss of Alaska permafrost by 2100

01.12.2015 | Earth Sciences

New study reveals what's behind a tarantula's blue hue

01.12.2015 | Life Sciences

Climate Can Grind Mountains Faster Than They Can Be Rebuilt

01.12.2015 | Earth Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>