I just saw word on Twitter that northern Italy has suffered yet another earthquake,. A 5.1 magnitude earthquake hit the Modena area in Emilia-Romagna around 9:20 p.m. Italian time. This is the latest in a series of earthquakes to hit the region over the past few weeks, leaving more than 20 dead and thousands displaced all over northern Italy and particularly in the Po River Valley.
So what is going on here?
Sandwiched between the Alps and the Africa plate, Italy has always been a hotspot for seismic activity. The map above, sourced from Piedmont Properties via Daily Kos, shows the earthquake zones in Italy – basically the entire peninsula. The legend indicates that the strongest quakes, the Category I tremors, are common in a few pockets in Sicily, Basilicata, Puglia, Campania, Lazio, Abruzzo, and Friuli-Venezia Giulia. The lower-grade Category III quakes show up mostly in southern Italy. But the large portion of the country lies in a Category II quake zone. As you’ll see, almost the entirety of Emilia-Romagna lies in a quake zone.
Besides natural plate movements, Daily Kos also seems to point to fracking as a possible cause of the latest seismic phenomenon. Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, “is a [mining] technique used to release petroleum, natural gas, or other substances for extraction.” Daily Kos links to a number of articles about the latest drilling/fracking/gas exploration projects in the Po River Valley. The Po Valley encompasses a large swath of northern Italy, as you’ll see in the map below:
For additional updates about the Modena earthquake, follow my Milan-based friend Alex who has been staying abreast of all the Italy earthquake news on his website Italy Chronicles and his Twitter account @newsfromitaly.