Natural Hazards

, Volume 54, Issue 2, pp 563–581 | Cite as

Web-based macroseismic survey in Italy: method validation and results

  • Paola SbarraEmail author
  • Patrizia Tosi
  • Valerio De Rubeis
Original Paper


A new method of macroseismic surveys, based on voluntary collaboration through the Internet, has been running at the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV) since July 2007. The macroseismic questionnaire is addressed to a single non-specialist; reported effects are statistically analysed to extrapolate a probabilistic estimate of Mercalli Cancani Sieberg and European Macroseismic Scale intensities for that observer. Maps of macroseismic intensity are displayed online in almost real time and are continuously updated when new data are made available. For densely inhabited zones, we have received reports of felt effects for even very small events (M = 2). Six earthquakes are presented here, showing the ability of the method to give fast and interesting results. The effects reported in questionnaires coming from three towns are carefully analysed and assigned intensities are compared with those derived from traditional macroseismic surveys, showing the reliability of our web-based method.


Earthquakes Macroseismic intensity Questionnaire Macroseismic effects 



The study was supported by EU FP6 NEST Pathfinder programme TRIGS under contract NEST-2005-PATH-COM-043386, by the DPC (Dipartimento della Protezione Civile) S1 Project and DPC ((Dipartimento della Protezione Civile) S3 Project.


  1. Cirella A, Piatanesi A, Cocco M, Tinti E, Scognamiglio L, Michelini A, Lomax A, Boschi E (2009) Rupture history of the 2009 L’Aquila (Italy) earthquake from non-linear joint inversion of strong motion and GPS data. Geophys Res Lett 36:L19304. doi: 10.1029/2009GL039795 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. De Rubeis V, Gasparini C, Tosi P (1992) Determination of the macroseismic field by means of trend and multivariate analysis of questionnaire data. Bull Seism Soc Am 82:1206–1222Google Scholar
  3. Dengler LA, Dewey JW (1998) An intensity survey of households affected by the Northridge, California, earthquake of 17 January 1994. Bull Seism Soc Am 88:441–462Google Scholar
  4. DPC S4 Project (2005)
  5. Gasperini P (2001) The attenuation of seismic intensity in Italy: a bilinear shape indicates the dominance of deep phases at epicentral distances longer than 45 km. Bull Seism Soc Am 91:826–841CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Gilles S, Musson RMW, Bossu R, Wald DJ, Quitoriano V (2008) A comparison of EMS and MMI macroseismic intensity assignments from online questionnaires. Seism Res Lett 79:321Google Scholar
  7. Grünthal G (1998) European macroseismic scale 1998 (EMS-98). Cahiers du Centre Européen de Géodynamique et de Séismologie Luxembourg 15:1–99Google Scholar
  8. Kalman RE (1960) A New approach to liner filtering and prediction problems. Trans ASME J Basic Eng 82(Series D):35–45Google Scholar
  9. Marcelli I, Montecchi A (1962) Contributi per uno studio della sismicità dell’Italia. Annali di Geofisica 15:159Google Scholar
  10. Molin D (1995) Considerations on the assessment of macroseismic intensity. Annali di Geofisica 38:805–810Google Scholar
  11. Molin D, Bernardini F, Camassi R, Caracciolo CH, Castelli V, Ercolani E, Postpischl L (2008) Materiali per un catalogo dei terremoti italiani: revisione della sismicità minore del territorio nazionale. Quaderni di geofisica 57:1–75Google Scholar
  12. Musson RMW (2007) Macroseismic effects of the 2007 Cape St Vincent earthquake from the EMSC online questionnaire. CSEM/EMSC Newsl 22:30–31Google Scholar
  13. Sieberg A (1930) Scala MCS (Mercalli-Cancani-Sieberg). Geologie der Erdbeben, Handbuch der Geophysik 2:552–555Google Scholar
  14. Tosi P, De Rubeis V, Tertulliani A, Gasparini C (2000) Spatial patterns of earthquake sounds and seismic source geometry. Geoph Res Lett 27:2749–2752CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Wald DJ, Quitoriano V, Dengler LA, Dewey JW (1999) Utilization of the internet for rapid community intensity maps. Seism Res Lett 70:680–697Google Scholar
  16. Wald DJ, Worden BC, Quitoriano V, Pankow KL (2006) Shakemap manual version 1.0 technical manual, user’s guide, and software guide.
  17. Wood H, Neumann F (1931) Modified Mercalli intensity scale of 1931. Bull Seism Soc Am 21:277–283Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paola Sbarra
    • 1
    Email author
  • Patrizia Tosi
    • 1
  • Valerio De Rubeis
    • 1
  1. 1.Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, RomaRomeItaly

Personalised recommendations