The role of instrumental versus macroseismic locations for earthquakes of the last century: a discussion based on the seismicity of the North-Western Apennines (Italy)

S. Solarino


Many seismological observatories began to record and store seismic events in the early years of the twentieth century,
contributing to the compilation of very valued databases of both phase pickings and waveforms. However, despite
the availability of the instrumental data for some of the events of the last century, an instrumental location for
these earthquakes is not always computed; moreover, when available, the macroseismic location is strongly preferred
even if the number of points that have been used for it is low or the spatial distribution of the observations is
not optimal or homogeneous. In this work I show how I computed an instrumental location for 19 events which occurred
in the Garfagnana-Lunigiana region (Northern Tuscany, Italy) beginning from 1902. The location routine is
based on a Joint Hypocentral Determination in which, starting from a group of master events, the systematic errors
that may affect the data are summed up in the corrective factors complementing the velocity propagation model. All
non-systematic errors are carefully checked and possibly discarded by going back to the original data, if necessary.
The location is then performed using the classic approach of the inverse problem and solved iteratively. The obtained
locations are then compared to those already available from other macroseismic studies with the aim to check
the role to be attributed to the instrumental locations. The study shows that in most cases the locations match, in particular
when considering the different significance of the location parameters, especially for the strongest events: the
instrumental location provides the point where the rupture begins, while the macroseismic one is an estimate of the
area where the earthquake possibly took place. This paper is not meant to discuss the importance and the necessity
of macroseismic data; instead, the aim is to show that instrumental data can be used to obtain locations even for older
seismic events, without any intention to define which location is better or more reliable.


historical seismicity;velocity propagation model;Joint Hypocentral Determination

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Published by INGV, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia - ISSN: 2037-416X