Sunday 20 May 2012

Earthquake on the Modena Plane, northern Italy.

On Sunday 20 May 2012, slightly after 4.00 am local time (slightly after 2.00 am, GMT), the Modena Plane of northern Italy was shaken by an Earthquake centered about 30 km northeast of the city of Modena, recorded by the United States Geological Survey as measuring 6.0 on the Richter Scale and occurring at a depth of 5.1 km. This was followed about an hour later by a second quake in roughly the same place, at a depth of 10 km, measuring 5.1 on the Richter Scale.

Map showing the location of the quake and the areas that suffered the worst shaking. USGS.

The quake is reported to have caused at least six deaths (at the time of writing); four workers on nightshifts in factories and two heart attacks. The quake is reported to have caused considerable damage to factories, warehouses and homes, as well as a number of historic buildings, including Castle of Finale Emilio and the Palace of Venice in Finale Emilia.

Scenes from Emelia, 20 May 2012. La Republica.

Italy is partially located on a southern extension of the Eurasian Plate, and partially on the Apulian (or Adriatic)Plate, a breakaway part of the African Plate now sticking into southern Europe, comprising eastern Italy and part of the Balkans. This is being squeezed by the northward movement of Africa from the south, leading to uplift in the Alps and the mountains of central Italy, as well as Earthquakes across the country, and vulcanism in the south.

Map showing the relationship between the Eurasian Plate (grey), African Plate (brown) and Anatolian Plate (pink). The quake location shown is for the 6.3 magnitude earthquake at L’Aquila in 2009. Ann Pizzorusso/Napoli Unplugged

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