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RMS comments on Italy earthquake

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Shortly after 02:00 UTC on Sunday, May 20, a Mw6.0 (moment magnitude) earthquake struck the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy. The USGS have reported a depth of 3.2 miles and an epicentre approximately 22miles north-northwest of Bologna; 42miles east of Parma, and around 210 miles north-northwest of Rome.

The European-Mediterranean Seismology Centre has reported the earthquake as a magnitude 6.1Mw (moment magnitude) earthquake. As of 10:00 UTC on Monday, 21 May the Centre has reported 45 earthquakes of Mw3.0 or greater to have struck northern Italy following the Mw6.1 earthquake to include two magnitude Mw5.2 earthquakes at 03:02 and 13:18 UTC on Sunday, 20 May.

Sunday’s earthquake is most significant  earthquake to strike Italy since the (April) 2009 Mw6.3 earthquake struck the Abruzzo region of central Italy.

According to the USGS PAGER, the maximum intensity of ground shaking in the vicinity of the epicenter was VII (very strong) on the Modified Mercalli Intensity (MMI) scale. This level of shaking can be expected to cause moderate damage to resistant structures and moderate/heavy damage to vulnerable structures. The USGS PAGER reports that an estimated 56,000 people were exposed to this level of shaking – to include the municipalities of San Felice sul Panaro (population ~10,000), Camposanto (~3,000), Medolla (~6,000) and Finale Emilia (~15,000) -whilst over 1 million were exposed to intensity V or stronger shaking, where there is potential for damage to structures to occur.