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On December 16, 1857, an earthquake wreaked havoc across a huge area of the regions of Basilicata and Campania (Val d’Agri and Vallo di Diano). More than 180 villages in an area of over 20,000 km2 suffered very severe damage. More than 6,000 houses collapsed or became uninhabitable, and 19,000 people were killed. In the months of February and March 1858, the Irish engineer Robert Mallet undertook a mission to study the earthquake with a grant from the Royal Society of London. In 1862, he published his extraordinary study diary, in which the technical and scientific observations mingled with descriptive and literary details. This represents, from different angles, a unique ‘observatory’ over the landscape and the social, economic and cultural aspects of Val d’Agri and Vallo di Diano. In 2003, the Provinces of Salerno and Potenza started up a joint venture with the Storia Geofisica Ambiente of Bologna and with the scientific partnership of the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, with a view to setting up provincial laboratories dedicated to environmental education, and named after Robert Mallet. The Mallet Project proceeded up to 2009 on three agreements. Within the framework of the idea of a ‘Mallet Laboratories’ Project, there has been the opportunity to set up a network of study centers in the territories of these two provinces (Salerno and Potenza), which can promote research with great national and international breadth, starting with the world of schools and local communities. The study entitled Viaggio nelle aree del terremoto del 16 dicembre 1857 was published through the period from 2004 to 2009.
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