Earthquake near Naples


Aug 21st, 2017, 03:13 PM
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Earthquake near Naples

Being reported by NBC's Nightly News - JUST IN: 1 person killed and 25 injured as earthquake strikes popular Italian tourist island of Ischia, off Naples.
Debs is offline  
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Aug 21st, 2017, 03:20 PM
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Its always so sad and really distressing to hear about quakes. A 3.6 really isnt that strong, but the old buildings just cant stand up to tremors. I often wonder whether the government has any seismic retrofiting programs.

Maybe one of our Italian Fodorites know.

Hoping for the best for those affected!
Dayle is offline  
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Aug 21st, 2017, 07:59 PM
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It has been corrected to 4 and very close to surface. There seems to be still discussion about if it is a tectonic or vulcanic quake. 2 are dead, two children are still in a house that has crumbled down and not known their conditions, twenty something wounded but not gravely. Help and evacuation actions all seem to be working without problems.

Re: retrofitting - it is complicated (as with many things in Italy). Read this and this
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Aug 21st, 2017, 10:29 PM
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There will no doubt be investigations but Italy actually does remarkable work in protecting life in earthquakes in an earthquake-prone country. In the Emilia Romagna earthquakes of some years ago, the loss of life was not in old buildings but in newer factories.

If you take an underground tour of Naples you will be shown building techniques employed by the Romans to reduce the risk of structural collapse from earthquakes, and the many of the foundations of Naples have held for more than a millennia.

Engineers recently discovered that Roman techniques for concrete making are more durable for use in seawalls than what moderns make today. Because of climate change, they are looking to replicate some of these techniques.

Finally, the strength of an earthquake isn't a reliable indicator of the impact on a building or likelihood of injury to people. If a building is siting on unstable soil rather than bedrock it might collapse is a "weaker" quake. If the quake is more of a jolt than rolling tremors it can be worse, how long an earthquake lasts might cause more important than its strenght (as was the case in Haiti).
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Aug 22nd, 2017, 04:00 AM
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In rural areas in Italy, and in old town centers, almost all of the old houses were built by local people, often by the people who were planning to live in the structures themselves, therefore by people with scanty knowledge of building to protect fromc seismic risk.

Italy is divided into seismic risk zones, and the building and retrofitting of homes is regulated according to the risk classification. In high-risk zones, all construction and any significant modification of buildings has to incorporate seismic improvements. However, there's only so much you can do to make safe an old building made of loose stones and rubble.

It's true that there have been some clamorous cases of failure of modern structures, including a tragic case in Calabria of a school that collapsed in a quake, killing many children. These cases are clamorous precisely because there were obvious failures of inspection or classification of earthquake risk. In the recent earthquakes in Umbria and Le Marche, almost all the casualties, and most of the structural damage, were in old buildings.

Our summer home is in an old building in Le Marche. In the Umbrian earthquakes of 1997-98, the house had considerable damage. The repair plan had to include "seismic improvements". In the recent earthquakes in Umbria, Lazio, and Le Marche, the house had only minor damage, which my husband (an engineer) attributes to the improvements made after the earlier quakes.

In some cases, the government does widespread checks and improvements. After the school collapse I mentioned, the state required that all schools in zones of moderate or higher risk be evaluated, and, where necessary, modified, for earthquake and fire risk. After a different quake, in a zone classified as low risk (I think Emilia Romagna), the government set about recalculating the risk zones, which hadn't been updated in several decades.

The amount of destruction in a quake does depend on the local geology, but also on the depth of the quake. The quake in Ischia was shallow, which apparently comports great damage.
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Aug 22nd, 2017, 04:13 AM
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In the following BBC article, there is a photo (the third, I believe) that shows a collapsed interior wall in a house on Ischia. You can see the kind of loose-stone-and-rubble construction I mentioned in my last post, hidden under modern-looking walls. This is fairly common in old buildings in Italy, including our summer house. The fact that the whole house in the photo didn't collapse is probably due to retrofitting designed to reduce earthquake risk.
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