Field missions: Molise in Italy 2002
The JRC ELSA earthquake engineering staff organised a two-day field trip in the epicentre area, on 14 and 15 November 2002, when the effects of the earthquake and its consequences on the environment and the people were still evident.
The Molise region in Italy was struck by two strong earthquakes on 31 October and 1 November 2002, respectively. The magnitude and intensity of the two events, the major ones of a seismic sequence lasting about fourteen days, were remarkable: the magnitude was estimated in the range of 5.4-5.8 and the intensity reached VIII - IX MCS (Mercalli Scale) values in the most damaged towns of the area. Among them, all located in the northern part of the province of Campobasso, the one that paid the heaviest tribute to the earthquakes was the small town of San Giuliano di Puglia, located at about 5 km from the epicentres of the two major earthquakes. In fact, the collapse of the primary school of the town, due to the first event of 31 October, caused the death of 26 young children, while no casualties were experienced in all the other towns
The aim of the field mission, and the final report from the trip, was to carry out a thorough overview of the most significant aspects of the event, based upon the evidence collected during the field trip, the documentation collected in preparation for the mission, and the information gathered through exchanges with international experts met on the field during the mission.
Just after the two main shocks that struck the Molise region with magnitudes of 5.4 and 5.3 (estimations by SSN), the GNDT (Gruppo Nazionale per la Difesa dai Terremoti) released a communication containing the following: ...'Infine, si ricorda che questo terremoto rappresenta una manifestazione normale della geodinamica della penisola.1' (Press release - GNDT 4-11-2002), which reflects how prone Italian regions are to such medium/low magnitude seismic events. In normal circumstances, the magnitude of these earthquakes would cause only slight, controlled damage to seismically designed constructions. However, it is known that the building stock in many Italian earthquake prone zones mainly consists of old masonry structures very vulnerable to earthquake shaking, which result in high damage intensities also for medium magnitude earthquakes.
The outcome from the field mission clearly shows that there is a need to define new strategies for earthquake protection leading to the creation of safer communities in the event of an earthquake and to the definition of the roles that various groups such as community groups (e.g. Municipalities and Regions), private corporations and organizations (e.g. insurance companies), urban authorities, national governments and international aid and development organizations, may play. The aim should be to create a 'safety culture' and to clearly define duties and responsibilities. This should lead to an effective mitigation of the seismic risks, avoiding the disastrous and sometimes tragic consequences of earthquakes that repeat year after year.
More information may be found at: