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Mainshocks and aftershocks of the 2002 molise seismic sequence, southern Italy

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In October and November 2002, the Molise region (southern Italy) was struck by two moderate magnitude earthquakes within 24 hours followed by an one month long aftershocks sequence. Soon after the first mainshock (October 31st, 10.32 UTC, M w 5.7), we deployed a temporary network of 35 three-component seismic stations. At the time of occurrence of the second main event (November 1st, 15.08 UTC, M w 5.7) the eight local stations already installed allowed us to well constrain the hypocentral parameters. We present the location of the two mainshocks and 1929 aftershocks with 2 < M L < 4.2. Earthquake distribution reveals a E-trending 15 km long fault system composed by two main segments ruptured by the two mainshocks. Aftershocks define two sub-vertical dextral strike-slip fault segments in agreement with the mainshock fault plane solutions. P- and T-axes retrieved from 170 aftershocks focal mechanisms show a coherent kinematics: with a sub-horizontal NW and NE-trending P and T-axes, respectively. For a small percentage of focal mechanisms (∼ 10%) a rotation of T axes is observed, resulting in thrust solutions. The Apenninic active normal fault belt is located about 80 km westward of the 2002 epicentral area and significant seismicity occurs only 20-50 km to the east, in the Gargano promontory. Seismic hazard was thought to be small for this region because neither historical earthquake are reported in the Italian seismic catalogue or active faults were previously identified. In this context, the 2002 seismic sequence highlights the existence of trans-pressional active tectonics in between the extensional Apenninic belt and the Apulian foreland.

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Chiarabba, C., De Gori, P., Chiaraluce, L. et al. Mainshocks and aftershocks of the 2002 molise seismic sequence, southern Italy. J Seismol 9, 487–494 (2005).

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