loading page

Detection of Spatial and Temporal Stress changes during the 2016 Central Italy Seismic Sequence by monitoring the evolution of scaled energy
  • +2
  • Matteo Picozzi,
  • Daniele Spallarossa,
  • Dino Bindi,
  • Antonio Giovanni Iaccarino,
  • Eleonora Rivalta
Matteo Picozzi
University of Naples Federico II

Corresponding Author:matteo.picozzi@unina.it

Author Profile
Daniele Spallarossa
University of Genoa
Author Profile
Dino Bindi
Helmholtz Centre Potsdam, GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences
Author Profile
Antonio Giovanni Iaccarino
University of Naples Federico II
Author Profile
Eleonora Rivalta
Author Profile


We consider approximately 32,000 microearthquakes that occurred between 2005 and 2016 in central Italy to investigate the crustal strength before and after the three largest earthquakes of the 2016 seismic sequence (i.e., the Mw 6.2, 24 August 2016 Amatrice, the Mw 6.1, 26 October 2016 Visso, and the Mw 6.5, 30 October 2016 Norcia earthquakes). We monitor the spatio-temporal deviations of the scaling between the seismic moment, M0, and the radiated energy, ES, with respect to a model calibrated for background seismicity. These deviations, defined here as Energy Index (EI), allow us to identify in the years following the Mw 6.1, 2009 L’Aquila earthquake a progressive evolution of the dynamic properties of the microearthquakes and the existence of high EI patches close to the Amatrice earthquake hypocenter. We show the existence of a crustal volume with high EI even before the Mw 6.5 Norcia earthquake. Our results agree with the suggested hypothesis that the Norcia earthquake nucleated at the boundary of a large patch that was highly stressed by the two previous mainshocks of the sequence. Furthermore, we highlight the mainshocks interaction both in terms of EI and of the mean loading shear stress associated to microearthquakes occurring within the crustal volumes comprising the mainshock hypocenters. Our study shows that the dynamic characteristics of microearthquakes can be exploited as beacons of stress change in the crust, and thus be exploited to monitor the seismic hazard of a region and help to intercept the preparation phase of large earthquakes.