The MCS macroseismic survey of the Emilia 2012 earthquakes

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Paolo Galli
Sergio Castenetto
Edoardo Peronace


Most of the inhabitants of northern Italy were woken up during the night of May 20, 2012, by the Mw 6.1 earthquake [QRCMT 2012] that occurred in the eastern Po Plain. The mainshock was preceded a few hours before by a Mw 4.3 shock, and it was followed by a dozen Ml >4 aftershocks in May and June, amongst which 11 had Ml ≥4.5. On May 29, 2012, a second Mw 6.0 mainshock struck roughly the same area [QRCMT 2012], which resulted in further victims, most of whom were caught under the collapse of industrial warehouses. Such earthquakes are an unexpected event in this region, as testified by the lack of local epicenters in the Italian seismic catalog [Rovida et al. 2011: CPTI11 from now] and by the consequent low level of the local seismic classification (seismic zone 3) [DPC 2012]. Apart from the warehouses and hundreds of old, crumbling farmsteads, severe damage was focused on ancient, tall buildings, such as churches, bell towers, castles, towers and palaces. Residential buildings generally suffered only light and/or moderate effects, apart from some exceptional cases. Using the Mercalli–Cancani–Sieberg (MCS) scale [Sieberg 1930], we began a macroseismic survey in the early morning of May 20, 2012, that ultimately included visits to almost 200 localities, 52 of which were carried out before the second mainshock. […]

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Galli P, Castenetto S, Peronace E. The MCS macroseismic survey of the Emilia 2012 earthquakes. Ann. Geophys. [Internet]. 2012Oct.16 [cited 2022Jun.27];55(4). Available from: