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August earthquake: Another devastating disaster


Intersecting fault lines make Italy vulnerable

By Joe Cannavo

The 6.2-magnitude earthquake that hit central Italy on Aug. 24 left  297 dead, dozens missing, and leveled entire blocks of several towns.

In the immediate aftermath, more than 80 aftershocks were recorded by EMSC, the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre.

And on Sept. 19, a quake of magnitude 4.1 shook the same area in central Italy, though little damage was reported from that quake.

The quakes spanned from the epicenter in Norcia, Umbria, a town 100 miles northeast of Rome, up to Castelluccio  di Norcia, Perugia.

One town, Amatrice, in Rieti, was almost completely flattened by the quake with dozens killed.

Grief erupts at a public funeral held in Ascoli Piceno honoring and remembering those who lost their lives in the earthquake.

Grief erupts at a public funeral held in Ascoli Piceno honoring and remembering those who lost their lives in the earthquake.

Seismologists have plotted the locations of the earthquakes, which appear to have shown a line of aftershock activity from Montereale up to Castelluccio di Norcia.

There are two fault lines running through Italy, the North South Fault, roughly along the crest of the central and southern Apennines from Genoa to Messina, and the East West Fault running across the country from Naples.

These cross each other around the Campobasso region. These intersecting fault lines make Italy one of the most
earthquake-prone countries in the world, at risk each time there is significant movement in the Eurasian and African plates.

In 2002 Professor Gianluca Valensise, of the Italian Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology, explained that the largest earthquakes tend to be along the North South Fault,

He added that they are hard to predict as faults are hidden and often seismic activity cannot be explained simply by monitoring the fault line along the Apennine belt. Just by looking at the number of earthquakes since 2000 (see below), two alone in 2012 and the most recent, there can be no denying that Italy is sadly one of the most earthquake-prone countries in the world.

If you haven’t donated to the 2016 earthquake relief effort, you can make contributions to the Italian Red Cross. 

Map of Italy

Map shows the worst affected towns of Accumoli and Amatrice and the village of Pescara del Tronto.

  • Aug. 24, 2016: Perugia, 6.2 mag, 297 people dead
  • May 29, 2012: Medolla, 5.8 mag, 20 dead
  • May 20, 2012: Emilia-Romagna, 6.1 mag, seven dead
  • April 6, 2009: L’Aquila, 6.3 mag, 308 dead
  • Nov. 12, 2004: Lombardy, Salo, 5.1 mag, no fatalities
  • Sept. 13, 2003: Emilia-Romagna, 5.3 mag, no fatalities
  • April 11, 2003: Piedmont, Alessandria, 5.0 mag, no fatalities
  • Jan. 26, 2003: Emilia-Romagna, 4.7 mag, no fatalities
  • Nov. 1, 2002: Molise, 5.8 mag, no fatalities
  • Oct. 31, 2002: Molise, 5.9 mag, 30 dead
  • Sept. 6, 2002: Sicily, 6.0 mag, two dead
  • Nov. 26, 2001: Tuscany, Arezzo, 4.6 mag, no fatalities
  • July 17, 2001: Trentino-Alto Adige, 4.7 mag, three dead
  • Aug. 21, 2000: Piedmont, Alessandria, 4.9 mag, no fatalities

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