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01st September 2009

Graduate student produces first published analysis of devastating L’Aquila earthquake

Graduate student Richard Walters (2004, Earth Sciences) has just had a paper published on the earthquake that struck the medieval city of L’Aquila in Italy earlier this year. Stories of the destruction wreaked by the earthquake gripped the media in April, and Richard’s paper has generated a lot of interest.

‘The 2009 L’Aquila Earthquake (Central Italy): an InSAR source mechanism and implications for seismic hazard’ is the first published analysis of the quake, which killed 307 people, and made thousands more homeless. Richard and his colleagues analysed radar images from the European Space Agency’s Envisat satellite, taken before and after the earthquake. They used differences between the phases of radar waves reaching the Earth’s surface in the two sets of data to spot changes in the area’s topography, and concluded that the origins of the quake lay in the Paganica fault, an undistinguished fracture in comparatively flat ground. “It shows it is dangerous to work on the assumption that the faults associated with the largest topographic features are going to produce the largest events,” Richard said in an interview.

You can read more about Richard’s research on¬†his website¬†.

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