A continuing story…
25th December, 2018: Seismic activity in and around Mount Etna, Sicily
28th January, 2017: The seismic activity in Italy which started in August, 2016 continues in Central Italy. Ten days earlier – 18th January there was an earthquake in Central Italy, the tremors and earth movement sent shock waves through the region, resulting in an avalanche that engulfed a hotel. The force of the avalanche displaced the hotel downhill by tens of meters. Almost thirty people lost their lives. This is all part of a continuing seismic pattern that has seen tens of thousands of quakes in Central Italy since August of last year.30th October, 2016: Two months ago I wrote an article about earthquakes in Italy following the catastrophic earthquake of Wednesday, 24th August when the town of Amatrice was destroyed. Hundreds of people lost their lives. Since then Central Italy has been jostled and rocked by thousands of tremors and several strong earthquakes. On 26th October, there was a large earthquake west of Visso, hundreds of people were evacuated to the coast for their safety. Then this morning, 30th October, another huge earth tremor occured just to the north of Norcia, Umbria. This morning’s quake registered 6.6 on the Richter scale. Ever since the quakes have continued, shaking the hills and small towns of this mountainous area. I can’t even imagine how frightening and concerning these ground movements are for the local people. Let’s hope that the people living in theses areas stay safe and that the seismic activity ends soon.
30th August, 2016: For a lay person’s guide to Italy’s earthquakes – I wrote:
Every few years there is an earthquake in Italy that makes the news. Towns and villages in ruins fill our TV screens. The latest of these was a tremor that struck in the early hours of Wednesday morning burying many people forever as they slept. The epicentre of the earthquake was about 10 miles north-east of Norcia in the picturesque hills of Umbria. It is a beautiful region of forests, waterfalls and charming villages. This is a mountainous area where the regions of Lazio, Umbria and Le Marche meet. The area is about 90 minutes drive from Rome.
Italy’s fault lines are very active in geological terms. In the last twenty years there have been three major earthquakes and numerous smaller ones. The beautiful town of Assisi was hit in 1997 by a quake which damaged the famous Basilica of San Francisco. It took years to restore the church and it’s medieval frescoes. In 2009 there was a quake in L’Aquila which destroyed the town and killed hundreds of people. In 2016 an earthquake measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale destroyed Amatrice, a pretty little mountain town known all over Italy as the birthplace of a special pasta dish – Pasta al’Amatriciana. Not far from Modena in Emilia Romagna there was an earthquake in 2012 which shook the buildings so hard enormous wheels of Parmesan Cheese fell from the shelves in the drying houses where they are stored to age for ten to fifteen years.
So why do people live in ‘earthquake prone’ areas? Well they live here for many reasons. Volcanic rocks produce, over time excellent, fertile soils that are wonderful for farming. Let’s take Vesuvius as an example – this is a huge volcano, an active volcano, located on the Bay of Naples. It will probably erupt again at some point in the future. After Milan and Rome, Naples is one of Italy’s largest cities. In the event of a volcanic eruption there would be a massive ejection of gases and rock into the atmosphere. The vacuum created by the explosion would create very strong onshore winds as air rushes in to fill the void. These strong winds would prevent people leaving the area by sea. The motorway around the bay would become gridlocked within an hour with cars trying to flee. The result would be catastrophic. However people, especially Italians, love to be near family. Family connections and relationships bind individuals to a town, a village, even a street. Familiarity is reassuring it provides us with security and predictability.
I’ve been working in Italy for thirty years. The Italians are resilient people. They will rebuild and they will survive. The Italian peninsula is one of the most beautiful, rich and diverse landscapes of Europe. This is the land of olive oil, fine wines, cheeses, hams and delicious fruits and vegetables. A land of skill, design and ingenuity. A land of literature, art and culture. A land of profound humanity and kindness. Italy will endure and we can support the Italians by continuing to visit and showing that we care.
- Livello di pericolosita in Italian means ‘level of danger’ in English.
- The USGS – United States Geological Survey does an excellent job monitoring seismic activity globally. It also has an informative web site, full of detail and live up-dates. The address is www.usgs.gov
- In Italy there is a National Centre for Earthquakes showing quakes and tremors, their location, depth and power Italy’s ‘live’ seismic activity monitoring service
- These maps of Sicily and the volcano of Etna, show clearly the fault lines that cause seismic activity in Southern Italy and Sicily.
- Updated: 30-10-2016
- Updated: 29-01-2017
- Updated: 26-10-2018
- Updated: 24-01-2019
A fantastic and detailed ‘seismic map’ published in late 2018 by Italy’s INGV:
Seismic Activity Map – Italy, 2018 (ingv)