Italian Earthquake Focus Shifts North; What Influence Does L’Aquila Quake Have?

The Emilia Romagna region of northern Italy has been rocked by quakes, with a 6.0 magnitude quake on May 20, a 5.8 magnitude quake earlier today, and hundreds of aftershocks in between.  By some accounts, this is the first significant seismic activity in this part of Italy in over four centuries.  While the death toll is, thankfully, much lower than that of the 2009 L’Aquila quake, the economic costs could be comparable or higher, thanks to the presence of heavy manufacturing and agricultural activity in the region (the region is home to sports cars and cheese, among other high-value goods).

I mention this in part because of some of the consequences of the 2009 L’Aquila quake.  Not only have reconstruction efforts progressed slowly, but there is a manslaughter case against several scientists based on their recommendations on the severity of quake activity in the region prior to the April 2009 quake.  I have not seen any indications that the same thing occurred here, but I can’t help but wonder if this item from The Guardian‘s coverage was influenced by the L’Aquila quake.

“Residents were told by experts that there was no telling when the spate of earthquakes would subside.

“‘It is likely they could continue for years,’ said Giuliano Panza, professor of seismology at the University of Trieste.”

The quake today occurred on a separate fault from the May 20 quake, and at the moment there are over 14,000 homeless and more than 20 dead.  By comparison, over 300 died in the single L’Aquila quake and over 60,000 made homeless.  It’s not clear that Italy has changed its seismic preparation practices in the light of the L’Aquila quake, I hope that will change.

Please consider donating to the relief organization of your choice (but do be on the lookout for the inevitable scams).