Mary Tobin

Reports from the Field

CAT/SCAN: Calabria-Apennine-Tyrrhenian / Subduction-Collision-Accretion Network
A Joint American-Italian Project to Monitor Earthquakes on the Most Active Seismic Belt in Italy

The Italian peninsula across the Mediterranean Sea is part of the tectonic plate boundary - the accommodation zone -- between the Eurasian and the African plates, which continue to move closer to each other. This motion controls the long-term evolution of the boundary, but recent geologic changes suggest a more rapid tectonic event superimposed on the slow motion of the big plates and localized to the Apennine arc. This signature event of the Italian peninsula is most dramatically manifested in the current deformation along the Calabrian portion of the arc and is the main focus of this project.

Researchers from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, in conjunction with researchers from the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, are working to deploy 50 portable digital broadband seismographs throughout southern Italy. These instruments will record both global and regional earthquakes for 18 months. Researchers are also working to deploy an additional 10 digital broad-band ocean-bottom seismometers (OBS) offshore for a period of 12 months. Researchers will use signals from distant earthquakes to develop a catscan, or a three dimensional image, of the Earth's crust and mantle beneath the Italian Peninsula of the earth. read more background information on project

A blizzard provides new challenges to the researchers searching for station sites for their digital broadband seismographs.

Report 1: Snow Falling on Station Sites(read report 1) (2) (3) (4) (5)
by Nano Seeber, Seismologist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Finding ones' way in the web of twisty roads is challenging enough in sunny Italy; try it in a blizzard! Today we made it across Volturara Pass behind a snowplow. The going is indeed getting tougher as the winter sets in the southern Apennines with unusual fierceness. But Italy seems to abound in those little indispensable surprises, such as the lady at the petrol station half buried in snow that took the time to explain how foolish we were... and she showed us the only negotiable way. In any case, the warmth of our Italian hosts is amply compensating for the un-Italian weather.

Today we installed a station in the Tyrrenian coast town of Cetraro, provincia di Cosenza. This is our second station in Calabria and the second one with a direct view to the island of Stromboli. After building the thermal protection for our broadband sensor out of the floor scrap in an abandoned pigpen, we found ourselves invited to an impromptu lunch, where elegance and taste could melt any amount of snow and ice. We were guests of Mr. and Mrs. Tundis and their daughter Simona, a student at the Cosenza University, who kindly led us to Agostino, the uncle down the street, who owns the ideal station site. That broad band has no choice but to do a great job.

This joint project involves researchers from Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO): Michael Steckler, Leonardo Seeber, Arthur Lerner-Lam, and Maya Tolstoy; and researchers from the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV): Alessandro Amato, Gianni B. Cimini, Claudio Chiarabba, Marco Cattaneo, and President Enzo Boschi. Support provided by the Continental Dynamics Program of the US National Science Foundation. Additional support provided by the NSF EAR Instrumentation and Facilities program through IRIS, and the OCE MG&G program through the OBS deployments and support of the OBSIP facility.

Additional collaborators include: Universita di Cosenza (Prof. Ignazio Guerra); Protezione Civile (government agency and local volunteer networks); Comuni (Town governments); Grottaminarda; San Andrea in Conza; Montella (Avellino); Venosa (Foggia); San Giovanni a Piro; Craco (Matera).

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