Scientists head to Italian earthquake zone

Researchers from the British Geological Survey and the University are travelling to the earthquake-affected area of central Italy.

The team, led by Dr Margarita Segou of the BGS, will deploy seismometers to help better understand the science of aftershocks and how scientists might better assist global emergency response.

Dr Segou explained that large earthquakes are always followed by aftershocks which can severely hamper emergency response and are sources of concern for the displaced population.

The aim of this immediate scientific response is to improve the understanding of aftershock sequences.  

The high resolution data we are collecting will shed light on how earthquakes nucleate and trigger cascades of aftershocks. Ultimately, we want to make this knowledge operationally useful, particularly with respect to building resilience in a post-disaster environment.

Dr Margarita SegouBritish Geological Survey

Important lessons

Professor John McCloskey, of the School of Geosciences, emphasised the importance of the lessons learned in this rapid deployment.

He believes the experience identifies work that needs to be done if researchers are to use their developing understanding of aftershock science to make a real difference to emergency response.

“We now know exactly what is needed scientifically, logistically and technologically, we just need to get organised better to do it every time. We are actively trying to get funding for this vital work now and hope it will be all in place for the next big earthquake. The rapid response to this earthquake is helping us understand the critical issues.”

Professor John McCloskeyschool of GeoSciences

Valued collaboration

Dr. Massimo Cocco of the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV, Rome) pointed out the importance of this collaboration both for fostering the scientific understanding of the seismogenic structures involved in this seismic sequence and for improving the ability of scientists in interpreting the spatio-temporal evolution of aftershocks in nearly real time.

Unravelling the anatomy of active faults and the complexity of normal fault systems in the Apennines is crucial to assess seismic hazard as a key contribution to prevention actions.