M6 Earthquake in Italy: Approximate Insured Loss Estimate €100 Million
A M6.0 earthquake occurred early Sunday, May 20, in Italy's northern Emilia-Romagna region. EQECAT estimates approximate insured losses from this earthquake at around €100 million ($127 million USD). Insured losses are unlikely to exceed the €200 million experienced in the M6.3 L’Aquila earthquake in 2009, owing to a lower magnitude and a smaller affected population. However, due to greater commercial activity in the vicinity of Sunday's event, the magnitude of losses from the L’Aquila event represents a credible upper bound.
The event has been followed by a large number of smaller but significant aftershocks. Several fatalities and the evacuation of thousands of local residents have been reported. The earthquake occurred about 4km from the small town of Camposanto and approximately 35km north of the city of Bologna, at a depth of 5km.
Northern Italy Shakemap - May 21, 2012
According to USGS PAGER estimates, a population of approximately 60,000 were exposed to strong, potentially-damaging shaking of intensity VII on the Modified Mercalli (MMI) scale. In comparison, the 2009 M6.3 earthquake in L’Aquila exposed a population of approximately 90,000 to ground shaking of MMI intensity VII or VIII.
Damage has been reported in local towns including Camposanto, San Felice sul Panaro, and Finale Emilia. Most notable has been the destruction of historic public buildings as well as some factories and warehouses. Residential buildings have largely withstood damage, although many may have been weakened and become more vulnerable to sizeable aftershocks. Major urban areas in the region where the earthquake was felt, including Modena and Bologna, have not been severely affected, due mainly to their greater distance from the epicenter.
EQECAT estimates that losses from this event will have mostly affected older, more vulnerable unreinforced brick masonry buildings. Limited classes of more modern structures may also have experienced damage, as seen in the 2009 L’Aquila earthquake. The application of earthquake design codes to more modern structures, together with relatively modest earthquake insurance penetration, are expected to mitigate insured losses to around €100 million.
Focal mechanisms for the May 20, 2012 earthquake, as produced by the US Geological Survey, indicate that movement occurred on a west-northwest-trending buried thrust fault near the southern margin of the Po River Plain. This mechanism is consistent with known active faults in the vicinity of the earthquake.
Seismicity of northern Italy and surrounding areas between 1990 and the present. The star indicates the location of May 20, 2012 M6.0 earthquake.
The tectonic setting of Italy is dominated by the Apennines Mountain belt, which forms the spine of the Italian peninsula. A strong belt of seismicity extends the entire length of the Apennines and follows mostly northwest trends of young tectonic deformation and active surface faulting. Although seismicity is distinctly lower in the central Po River plain of northern Italy where the May 20, 2012 earthquake occurred, active buried thrust faults have been discovered beneath the margins of the plain. These buried faults form the cores of folds and are related to compressive stress migration southwards from the Alps and northwards from the Apennines, into the margins of the Po Plain.
Known active faults of Italy plotted from the Database of Seismogenic Sources, Instituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia. The red star indicates the approximate location of the May 20, 2012 M6.0 earthquake.
Source: Instituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia
EQECAT's current loss estimate contains a high degree of uncertainty and is subject to revision as more detailed information becomes available. Losses are based on a rough comparison to the 2009 M6.3 quake, which resulted in approximately €10 billion economic damage and €200 million insured losses. EQECAT has not currently estimated economic losses.
Users of EQECAT's WORLDCATenterprise are advised to consider event IDs 21773 as the best-matched proxy for this earthquake. Event IDs 18012 and 25295 may be used to evaluate magnitude sensitivity, and event IDs 21772, 21774, 21824, and 21875 may be used to evaluate location sensitivity.
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