Contact: Mary Tobin
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Reports From the Field
Network a Joint American-Italian Project to Monitor Earthquakes
on the Most Active Seismic Belt in Italy
The Italian peninsula across the Mediterranean Sea is part of the tectonic plate boundary - the accommodation zone -- between the Eurasian and the African plates, which continue to move closer to each other. This motion controls the long-term evolution of the boundary, but recent geologic changes suggest a more rapid tectonic event superimposed on the slow motion of the big plates and localized to the Apennine arc. This signature event of the Italian peninsula is most dramatically manifested in the current deformation along the Calabrian portion of the arc and is the main focus of this project.
Researchers from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, in conjunction with researchers from the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia and the University of Cosenza, are working to deploy 50 portable digital broadband seismographs throughout southern Italy. These instruments will record both global and regional earthquakes for 18 months. Researchers are also working to deploy an additional 10 digital broad-band ocean-bottom seismometers (OBS) offshore for a period of 12 months. Researchers will use signals from distant earthquakes to develop a catscan, or a three dimensional image, of the Earth's crust and mantle beneath the Italian Peninsula of the earth. read more background information on projectReport 2: Holidays and Earthquakes (read report 1) (2) (3) (4) (5)
CAT/SCAN researchers celebrated Christmas and New Year's in Grottaminarda. For the holidays, we shifted our efforts from installing new stations to collecting samples of data from those already installed. On December 30, a magnitude 4.1 earthquake shook the area 70 km north of Grottaminarda, located in the center of the valley of the Ufita River, and CAT/SCAN researchers were asked by their co-investigators working in Rome to assist in recording the aftershocks.
A little more than a year ago in 2002, the mainshock of an earthquake in this area caused the collapse of a school, making headlines around the world, and the station we deployed a station at San Marco la Catola is 24 km southeast of this 2002 mainshock. We will be operating this station for at least two weeks to record aftershocks from the December 30, 2003 earthquake.
New Year's Eve was spent in Grottaminarda, a modern center whose original settlement, located in La Fratta, dates back to the sixth century. Our instruments recorded the impressive display of fireworks set off to usher in the New Year. On a somber note, the instruments recorded strong waves from the December 26 earthquake in Iran, reminding us of the importance of our efforts.
NOTES on Establishing Stations
The researchers are currently in the process of establishing thirty land stations, and hope to deploy ten additional at sea. This involves some logistical finesse and, among other things, scouting locations and navigating a web of local officials, customs, and a few skeptics. Here are a few missives sent during this process so far.
"On Christmas the CAT/SCAN workers in Grottaminarda were the guests of a local family and enjoyed an afternoon long dinner with four courses, homemade wine and ending with lemon liquour. Warm hospitality overcame the cold temperatures with snow on the surrounding mountains." - John Armbruster, 12/26/03"We were not able to install the station at Montella today, the road was closed with snow and ice. They think it will be clear in a few days." - John Armbruster, 12/27/03
"We arrived at Grottaminarda this noon, where we met our guide Vincenzo. We unloaded 79 boxes into the office store room and found one box missing. It contained the mounts for the solar panels and was packed in the only wooden container. It was left behind when the one pallet fell apart." - Nano Seeber, December 10, 2003
"We are making progress. ... Plans are in place for visiting the first potential site (near Bagnoli) Saturday morning. Vincenzo will call his friend the mayor. We have scoped out plastic flowerpots in town as housings for the DAS's and for the sensors. We are also planning a temporary station at the castle in Grottaminarda, below our offices." - Nano Seeber, December 11, 2003
"Yesterday we found a good site in Montella, a spectacular old convent recently restored. We are waiting for permission from the 'Dept. of the Belle Arti'" - Nano Seeber, December 15, 2003."We have 5 stations running and one site ready, pending permission from the 'Belle Arti'" - Nano Seeber, December 17, 2003.
This joint project involves researchers from Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO): Michael Steckler, Leonardo Seeber, Arthur Lerner-Lam, and Maya Tolstoy; researchers from the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV): Alessandro Amato, Gianni B. Cimini, Claudio Chiarabba, Marco Cattaneo, and President Enzo Boschi; and researchers from the Universita di Cosenza, including Professor Ignazio Guerra. Support provided by the Continental Dynamics Program of the US National Science Foundation. Additional support provided by the NSF EAR Instrumentation and Facilities program through IRIS, and the OCE MG&G program through the OBS deployments and support of the OBSIP facility.
Additional collaborators include: Protezione Civile (government agency and local volunteer networks); Comuni (Town governments); Grottaminarda; Sant'Andrea di Conza; Montella (Avellino); Venosa (Foggia); San Giovanni a Piro; Craco (Matera).