Mw6.1 earthquake rocks Northern Italy

An earthquake of magnitude Mw6.1 (EMSC data; USGS: M6.0) rocked Northern Italy on 20 May, 2012 at 2 am UTC. The epicentre was located on 35 km NNW of Bologna in the Po Plain at around 10 km depth. Media report at least 6 people dead and up to 50 injured. Intensities reached up to EMS VIII. Especially old brick buildings suffered severe damages and many collapses are reported.

Moment tensor solutions point to a reverse faulting event. Image source: EMSC (

USGS estimated peak ground accelerations in the order of 21% g:

USGS PGA estimations. Image source: USGS (

The earthquake followed a M4.0 foreshock three hours before, that already caused intensities of V. Large aftershocks are currently occuring, among them several events with M>4.0 and one quake measuring M5.2.

Generally, the area is characterized by rather moderate seismicity compared to the rest of the country, but strong earthquakes are known from historical sources and paleoseismological investigations.

Studies on Quaternary earthquake activity in the broader area:


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Christoph Grützner

Christoph Grützner

works at the Institute of Geological Sciences, Jena University. He likes Central Asia and the Mediterranean and looks for ancient earthquakes.

See all posts Christoph Grützner


  • Hong-Chun Wu | May 20, 2012|15:22 (UTC)

    precursor of M6.0 northern Italy

  • Christoph | May 20, 2012|21:41 (UTC)

    @Hong-Chun Wu: Sorry, I don’t get it. Do you claim to have predicted that earthquake?

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