Italy is one of the countries in the Mediterranean with the highest susceptibility to earthquakes, Sardinia is the only region of Italy without a seismic risk.
Italy’s high susceptibility to earthquakes
The Italian mainland rests on the point where the African and Eurasian tectonic plates meet. They move millimeters closer to each other every year, causing tension over the earth’s surface before releasing with catastrophic consequences, putting lives in danger. The deadliest earthquake documented in Europe happened in the Messina Strait between Sicily and mainland Italy in 1908, when a 7.0 magnitude earthquake killed 72,000 people.
There is an elevated risk of earthquakes in Calabria and Sicily, as well as the northern mountainous areas of Italy, and some central areas of the country.
Overall, Italy has a high seismic risk. Dangers become magnified because of the high-density populations and cultural heritage across Italy, such as old historical centers, which are susceptible to frequent and intense earthquakes.
Sardinia is an ‘earthquake less’ island
Earthquakes are much rarer and less potent in Sardinia. According to Italy’s Civil Protection Agency, Sardinia is the only part of Italy not affected by seismic events. It is the safest region of Italy, as well as one of the most sheltered areas in Europe, regardless of its isolated location between two continents.
Sardinia is the most ancient land of Italy; seismic events are now long in the past. As Sardinia is so ancient, it is also filled with extinct volcanos, which have been inactive for thousands if not millions of years; they can be spotted across the island, having maintained their craters and conical appearance. Hot springs are also present throughout Sardinia, created by the emergence of geothermally heated groundwater.
In recent decades the seismic networks have only recorded a few earthquakes will a low magnitude, mostly taking place at sea. The latest seismic events occurred in 2000, 2004, and 2006, only with very slight effects noticeable to the island. The seismic hazard to Sardinia is exceptionally modest.
The Corsica-Sardinia block is one of the most stable areas in the Mediterranean basin. However, there are a handful of seismic events that took place on the island, which have become forgotten with time. In 1616 an earthquake took place in the south of the island, responsible for damaging several watchtowers on the south-west coastline of Cagliari.
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