Nav: Home

Southern Italy: Earthquake hazard due to active plate boundary

January 24, 2017

Since the early civilizations, the lives of people in Europe, in the Middle East, and in North Africa have been closely linked to the Mediterranean. Natural catastrophes such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis have repeatedly shattered cultures and states in this area. The reason for this constant threat is that in the Mediterranean the Eurasian plate and the African plate interact. "Unfortunately, the tectonic situation is very complicated, since there are many different fault zones in this area. This makes an exact hazard analysis for certain areas very difficult", explains Prof. Dr. Heidrun Kopp Geophysicist at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel.

Together with colleagues from France, Italy and Spain, as well as from the Universities of Kiel and Bremen, the scientists now published their results of extensive investigations of the seafloor off the coast of Sicily and Calabria in the current edition of the international scientific journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters. The research campaigns have provided evidence that a plate boundary in the region shows current activity. "From historical natural disasters we know about the geological processes in this area, but so far the causes have not been well known. Now we are beginning to understand them better", says Professor Kopp, co-author of the study.

The results are based on six ship expeditions since 2010, including three with the German research vessel METEOR. During these expeditions the respective teams have mapped the seafloor using state-of-the-art technologies. In addition, the scientists have used seismic methods to investigate the structure of the ocean floor up to a depth of 30 kilometres.

"We already knew before that sedimentary layers in this region are typical for a situation when one plate slides underneath the other. However, it has been controversial whether these structures are old or whether the so-called subduction process is still active", explains Heidrun Kopp. The new investigations now show that the plates are still moving - "slowly, but in a way that they can build up stresses in the interior of the Earth", Professor Kopp adds.

The region investigated in this study is of great interest because in the past it has repeatedly been hit by devastating earthquakes and tsunamis. For example, an earthquake in the Messina strait in 1908 and a subsequent tsunami called for 72,000 lives.

"Of course, with the new findings, we can not predict if and when a severe earthquake will occur. But the more we know about the seafloor and its structure in detail, the better we can estimate where the probability of natural hazards is particularly high. Then actions for hazard mitigation and building regulations can reduce the risks", says Prof. Dr. Kopp.
-end-
Reference: Gutscher, M.-C., H. Kopp, S. Krastel, G. Bohrmann, T. Garlan, S. Zaragosi, I. Klaucke, P. Wintersteller, B. Loubrieu, Y. Le Faou, L. San Pedro, S. (2003): Theory and Functional Biology of the Calabrian Subduction, by M. Rovere, B. Mercier de Lepinay, C. Ranero, V. Sallares (2017): Active tectonics of the calabrian subduction. Central Mediterranean). Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 461, 61-72, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2016.12.020

Note: The expeditions M86 / 2 and M111 of the FS Meteor were supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG). The bathymetric data is available through the European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet).

Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (GEOMAR)

Related Earthquake Articles:

Earthquake symmetry
A recent study investigated around 100,000 localized seismic events to search for patterns in the data.
Crowdsourcing speeds up earthquake monitoring
Data produced by Internet users can help to speed up the detection of earthquakes.
Geophysics: A surprising, cascading earthquake
The Kaikoura earthquake in New Zealand in 2016 caused widespread damage.
How fluid viscosity affects earthquake intensity
A young researcher at EPFL has demonstrated that the viscosity of fluids present in faults has a direct effect on the intensity of earthquakes.
Earthquake in super slo-mo
A big earthquake occurred south of Istanbul in the summer of 2016, but it was so slow that nobody noticed.
A milestone for forecasting earthquake hazards
In a new study in Science Advances, researchers report that their physics-based model of California earthquake hazards replicated estimates from the state's leading statistical model.
Mw 5.4 Pohang earthquake tied to geothermal activity?
The Mw 5.4 Pohang earthquake that occurred near a geothermal site in South Korea last year was likely triggered by fluid injection at the geothermal plant, two separate reports conclude.
Seismologists introduce new measure of earthquake ruptures
A team of seismologists has developed a new measurement of seismic energy release that can be applied to large earthquakes.
Residual strain despite mega earthquake
On Christmas Day 2016, the earth trembled in southern Chile.
The losses that come after the earthquake: Devastating and costly
The study, titled, 'Losses Associated with Secondary Effects in Earthquakes,' published by Frontiers in Built Environmen, looks at the devastation resulting from secondary disasters, such as tsunamis, liquefaction of sediments, fires, landslides, and flooding that occurred during 100 key earthquakes that occurred from 1900 to the present.
More Earthquake News and Earthquake Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.