Soil-gas survey of liquefaction and collapsed caves during the Emilia seismic sequence

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Alessandra Sciarra
Barbara Cantucci
Mauro Buttinelli
Gianfranco Galli
Manuela Nazzari
Luca Pizzino
Fedora Quattrocchi


The epicentral area of the Emilia seismic sequence is located in the Emilia-Romagna Region (northern Italy), 45 km from the city of Modena (Figure 1). This area is sited within thrust-related folds of the Ferrara Arc, which represent the most external part of the northern Apennines. This sector is considered as having been active during late Pliocene to early Pleistocene times [Scrocca et al. 2007] and encompasses also the Mirandola and Ferrara seismogenic sources [e.g., Burrato et al. 2003, Boccaletti et al. 2004, Basili et al. 2008]. The main sedimentary infilling of the Po Plain is represented by Pliocene–Pleistocene alluvial deposits (alternating fluvial sands and clays) that overlie a foredeep clastic sequence, with a total average thickness of 2 km to 4 km [e.g., Carminati et al. 2010]. Soon after the mainshock, several liquefaction phenomena coupled to ground fractures were observed in the epicentral area (e.g., San Carlo, Ferrara). Soil liquefaction is a phenomenon in which the strength and stiffness of a soil is reduced by earthquake shaking or other rapid loading. […] Collapsed caves reported in the literature and/or local press [e.g., Febo 1999, Martelli 2002] in the epicentral area were previously investigated by our research group in 2008, with several soil measurements of CO2 and CH4 fluxes. Immediately after the May 20, 2012, mainshock and during the Emilia seismic sequence, the collapsed caves were sampled again to determine any variations in these CO2 and CH4 fluxes. In this survey, newly formed collapsed caves were also found and measured (especially in the northern part of investigated area). […]

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Sciarra A, Cantucci B, Buttinelli M, Galli G, Nazzari M, Pizzino L, Quattrocchi F. Soil-gas survey of liquefaction and collapsed caves during the Emilia seismic sequence. Ann. Geophys. [Internet]. 2012Oct.17 [cited 2022Jul.1];55(4). Available from:

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