The Near Fault Observatory community in Europe: a new resource for faulting and hazard studies

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Lauro Chiaraluce
Gaetano Festa
Pascal Bernard
Antonio Caracausi
Ivano Carluccio
John Clinton
Raffaele Di Stefano
Luca Elia
Christos Evangelidis
Semih Ergintav
Ovidiu Jianu
George Kaviris
Alexandru Marmureanu
Stanka Sebela
Efthimios Sokos


The Near Fault Observatories (NFOs) community is one of the European Plate Observing System (EPOS, Thematic Communities, today consisting of six research infrastructures that operate in regions characterised by high seismic hazard originating from different tectonic regimes.

Earthquakes respond to complex natural systems whose mechanical properties evolve over time. Thus, in order to understand the multi-scale, physical/chemical processes responsible for the faulting that earthquakes occur on, it is required to consider phenomena that intersect different research fields, i.e., to put in place multidisciplinary monitoring. Hence, NFOs are grounded on modern and multidisciplinary infrastructures, collecting near fault high resolution raw data that allows generation of innovative scientific products.

The NFOs usually complement regional backbone networks with a higher density distribution of seismic, geodetic, geochemical and other geophysical sensors, at surface and sometimes below grade. These dense and modern networks of multi-parametric sensors are sited at and around active faults, where moderate to large earthquakes have occurred in the past and are expected in the future. They continuously monitor the underlying Earth instability processes over a broad time interval.

Data collected at each NFO results in an exceptionally high degree of knowledge of the geometry and parameters characterizing the local geological faults and their deformation pattern. The novel data produced by the NFO community is aggregated in EPOS and is made available to a diverse set of stakeholders through the NFO Federated Specific Data Gateway (FRIDGE). In the broader domain of the Solid Earth sciences, NFOs meet the growing expectations of the learning and communication sectors by hosting a large variety of scientific information about earthquakes as a natural phenomenon and a societal issue. It represents the EPOS concept and objective of aggregating and harmonising the European research infrastructures capabilities to facilitate broader scientific opportunity.

The NFOs are at the cutting edge of network monitoring. They conduct multidisciplinary experiments for testing multi-sensor stations, as well as realise robust and ultra-low latency, transmission systems that can routinely accommodate temporary monitoring densification. The effort to continuously upgrade the technological efficiency of monitoring systems positions the NFO at the centre of marketing opportunities for the European enterprises devoted to new sensor technology.

The NFOs constitute ideal test beds for generating expertise on data integration, creating tools for the next generation of multidisciplinary research, routine data analysis and data visualization.

In particular focus is often on near-real time tools and triggering alarms at different levels are tested and implemented, strengthening the cooperation with the Agencies for risk management. NFOs have developed innovative operational actions such as the Testing Centre for Earthquake Early Warning and Source Characterisation (CREW) and detailed fast ground shaking and damage characterization.

Complementing the recent growth of modern laboratory and computational models, the NFOs can provide interdisciplinary observations of comparable high resolution to describe the behaviour of fault slip over a vast range of spatial and temporal scales and aiding to provide more accurate earthquake hazard characterizations.



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How to Cite
Chiaraluce, L., Festa, G., Bernard, P., Caracausi, A., Carluccio, I., Clinton, J. ., Di Stefano, R., Elia, L., Evangelidis, C. ., Ergintav, S., Jianu, O., Kaviris, G., Marmureanu, A., Sebela, S. and Sokos, E. (2022) “The Near Fault Observatory community in Europe: a new resource for faulting and hazard studies”, Annals of Geophysics, 65(3), p. DM316. doi: 10.4401/ag-8778.

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