Spatial distribution of scalar seismic moment release in Italy (1983-1996): seismotectonic implications for the Apennines

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G. Selvaggi
B. Castello
R. Azzara


We analyzed the distribution of seismic moment in Italy, computed from instrumental seismicity recorded by the Italian National Seismic Network in the past 14 years, to map the areas where seismic deformation processes have been active in this time interval. Seismic moment is the most suitable parameter to quantify earthquake size. It is related to the geometric characteristics of faults, to seismic energy and it is a quantity that can be summed and represented in its cumulative value. The maps of seismic moment distribution display more information than epicentral maps, better showing actively deforming regions. They provide further and original evidence for the existence, within the Apenninic belt, of two regions (north and south) characterized by different seismic energy release. The seismic moment is almost continuously and homogeneously distributed all along the belt in the Northern Apennines, whereas in the Southern Apennines it is concentrated in the zones recently activated by mainshock-aftershock seismic sequences. Seismic deformation takes place in a 30 km narrow belt along the Apennines, while in the transition zone between the Northern and Southern Apennines this belt is about 100 km wide. Comparing instrumental seismic moment release with the areas struck by the largest historical earthquakes which have occurred in the past six centuries, we qualitatively extended back to the past the information on where the seismic deformation occurs. In the Southern Apennines background energy release from instrumental seismicity is very low in the several areas hit by large historical earthquakes, suggesting that these seismogenic zones are currently quiescent.

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Selvaggi, G., Castello, B. and Azzara, R. (1997) “Spatial distribution of scalar seismic moment release in Italy (1983-1996): seismotectonic implications for the Apennines”, Annals of Geophysics, 40(6). doi: 10.4401/ag-3832.