Pure and Applied Geophysics

, Volume 174, Issue 10, pp 3689–3711 | Cite as

Earthquake Triggering Inferred from Rupture Histories, DInSAR Ground Deformation and Stress-Transfer Modelling: The Case of Central Italy During August 2016–January 2017

  • G. A. Papadopoulos
  • A. Ganas
  • A. Agalos
  • A. Papageorgiou
  • I. Triantafyllou
  • Ch. Kontoes
  • I. Papoutsis
  • G. Diakogianni
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. The Central Italy Earthquake Crisis with onset August 24, 2016


On August 24, October 26 and 30, 2016, Central Apennines (Italy) were hit by three shallow, normal faulting very strong earthquakes rupturing in an NW–SE striking zone. Event 3 (Norcia) occurred between event 1 (Amatrice) at the SE and event 2 (Visso) at the NW of the entire rupture zone. The rupture histories of the three events, as revealed by teleseismic P-wave inversion, showed that all were characterized by bilateral rupture process with stronger rupture directivity towards NW for events 1 and 3 and towards SSE for event 2. Maximum seismic slip of 1.2, 0.8, and 1.4 m in the hypocenter and magnitude of M w 6.2, 6.1, and 6.5 were calculated for the three events, respectively. DInSaR measurements based on Sentinel-1 and 2 satellite images showed ground deformation directivity from events 1 and 2 towards event 3, which is consistent with the rupture process directivity. For events 1, 2, and 3, the maximum ground subsidence was found equal to 0.2, 0.15, and 0.35 m. Based on rupture directivity and ground deformation pattern, we put forward the hypothesis that the area of the second event was stress loaded by the first one and that both the first and second earthquake events caused stress loading in the area, where the third event ruptured. Coulomb stress-transfer modelling yields strong evidence in favor of our hypothesis. The stress in the fault plane of event 2 was increased by ~0.19 bars due to loading from event 1. Event 3 fault plane was loaded by an amount of ~2 bars, due to the combined stress transfer from the two previous events, despite its proximity to the negative/positive lobe boundary. The three events produced combined stress loading of more than +0.5 bar along the Apennines to the NW and SE of the entire rupture zone. In the SE stress lobe, a series of strong earthquakes of M w 5.3, 5.6, and 5.7 occurred on January 18, 2017, but likely, seismic potential remains in the area. We consider that in the NW and more extensive stress lobe, the seismic potential has also elevated due to stress loading.


Rupture histories teleseismic P-wave inversion stress transfer DInSAR central Italy 2016–2017 earthquakes earthquake triggering 



This work was supported by the Center of Excellence BEYOND (“Building a Centre of Excellence for EO-based monitoring of Natural Disasters”), funded by the EU-FP7-REGPOT-2012-2013-1, G.A. 316210 project. This is also a contribution to the internal research project EARTHWARN of the Institute of Geodynamics, National Observatory of Athens (NOA). We acknowledge Bob Simpson for making available the DLC code. Ch. Kyriakopoulos, S. Valkaniotis, and Ch. Tsimi helped with Italian geophysical data. Thanks are due to Gian Maria Bocchini, PhD student at NOA, for useful discussions on the tectonics of Apennines. All illustrations were prepared using the GMT software (Wessel et al. 2013). We thank two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments which helped to improve substantially the initial manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. A. Papadopoulos
    • 1
  • A. Ganas
    • 1
  • A. Agalos
    • 1
  • A. Papageorgiou
    • 1
  • I. Triantafyllou
    • 1
  • Ch. Kontoes
    • 2
  • I. Papoutsis
    • 2
  • G. Diakogianni
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of GeodynamicsNational Observatory of AthensAthensGreece
  2. 2.Institute for Astronomy, Astrophysics, Space Applications and Remote SensingNational Observatory of AthensAthensGreece

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