Tuesday 29 May 2012

Modena Plane hit by second major Earthquake.

The Modena Plane of northern Italy was hit by an Earthqake measuring 5.8 on the Richter Scale at 9.00 am local time (7.00 am GMT) on Tuesday 29 May 2012, according to the United States Geological Survey. The quake was recorded as occurring 20 km northeast of the city of Modena at a depth of 9.6 km. There are eight recorded deaths so far, with more people reportedly trapped beneath rubble, making it highly likely that the death toll will rise, possibly considerably.

Map showing the location of the quake and the areas hit by the worst shaking; within successive contour lines. USGS.

The same area was hit by a magnitude 6.0 quake on 20 May, which is now known to have killed seven people, as well as causing a number of factories to collapse and damaging several historic buildings, most notably the Castle of Finale Emilio and the Palace of Venice in Finale Emilia, both of which are reported to have suffered further damage. 

The aftermath of the 20 May quake in Finale Emilio. Luca Bruno/AP.

The Modena Plane lies close to the boundary between two tectonic plates; to the west is the Eurasian Plate, which underlies the western part of Italy, but to the east is the Apulian (or Adriatic) Plate, a microplate that has broken away from Africa, and is now jammed into the Eurasian Plate, underlying eastern Italy and the western part of the Balkan Peninsula. This is being squeezed by the northward movement of Africa, making Italy and the Balkans highly prone to Earthquakes. 

Outline map showing the approximate positions of the Eurasian (EU), Adriatic (AD) and African (AF) Plates. Di Bucci & Mazzuli (2003).

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