Italian Earthquake Forecast, Northern Italy

john's picture

Two recent earthquakes in Italy have caused significant damage, and loss of life.  The May 20, 2012 Emilia Romagna event was a M6.0 event, and was reported to have caused 5 deaths [1].

Of greater impact for a variety of reasons was the M6.3 earthquake that occurred on April 6, 2009 near L'Acquila in central italy.  This event led to the deaths of 297 persons [2] with 1500+ injured, and 60,000 made homeless.  Damages are estimated to have been $16 Billion US Dollars.

This event also spawned a famous legal case in Italy, in which 7 members of the National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks were accused of not properly communicating the risk of earthquakes in the region.  These seven persons were tried and convicted on 22 October 2012 in a highly controversial ruling, were found guilty of manslaughter and each sentenced to 6 years imprisonment [2].  Their case is currently on appeal.  

Major earthquakes have occurred throughout Italian history and are the result of the collision of the northward moving African tectonic plate with the Eurasian plate, as well as other complex geological process relating to the opening of the Tyrrhenian sea and the much smaller Aegean tectonic plate.  These processes are also the cause of widespread volcanism in Italy near Naples (Mt. Vesuvius) and Sicily (Mt. Etana).

Earthquakes greater than M7 were recorded as recently as 1915, and as far back in time as 1693 AD.  These and other events have caused considerable damage and loss of life throughout Italian history [1].

It is therefore of interest to compute forecast probabilities for possible future events using the hazard viewer tool under the tools tab. 

At left top is a screenshot of the Moderna-Bologna region of Northern Italy.  At bottom is a screenshot obtained by clicking on the Forecast Timeseries bar on the hazard viewer and waiting about 1 minute for the timeseries to complete.  We show below forecast timeseries for both M>5 and M>6 earthquakes. 

From the table at lower left in the hazard viewer, we can see that the chance of an M>5 earthquake in the next year with the selection circle of 100 km radius is 60.1%, and for a M>6 earthquake is 2.0%.

Probabilities of both events seem to be trending to increased values.

The below plot shows the probability of a M>5 earthquake in the selection circle as a function of the time at the bottom.  Probabilities are for the next year from the time at the bottom.  The timeseries is sampled monthly. 

For example, on January 1, 2008 the probabiity of an M>5 earthquake during the period January 1, 2008 to December 31, 2008 was calculated to be about 51%.  This is the left hand end of the curve.  The probability calculated for today, is shown to be 60.1%, as also stated above.

Probability as a function of time is shown below for M>6 and for the next year from the time indicated at the bottom.

References in the text:

[1]  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_earthquakes_in_Italy

[2]  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2009_L%27Aquila_earthquake

Comments

HarryWilliams's picture

I am very much sadded by the results shown here about the italian earth quake as it has caused severe damage and many people lost their lifes and shelter. As per http://www.analyzedu.com/ news drought has arrived over that place.

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