M 6.1 and M 5.8 NORTHERN ITALY on May 20th and 29th 2012

Last update: 19 June 2012 at 15:26 UTC

Earthquake details | More informationEarthquake sequence | Earthquakes locations
Intensity map | Send us pictures or videos | Epicenter location


Earthquakes details

An earthquake of magnitude 6.1 hit Northern Italy, on May 20th, 2012 at 02:03 UTC, in the region of Emilia Romagna. The event was preceded two hours before by a magnitude 4.0 on May 19th at 23:13 UTC, which is the starting point of a long sequence of seismicity. The shake caused 7 victims and lead to evacuation of several cities. This event was largely felt in Northern Italy. Important damages are reported in the cities of Finale Emilia, Ferrara and Modena, where significant cultural heritage buildings have been affected. More information on the main shock is available here. If you have experienced this earthquake, you are invited to answer the online questionnaire.

9 days later, on May 29th, 2012 at 07:00 UTC, a magnitude 5.8 occurred 15 km west from the May 20th event. The mechanisms involved in both events are similar. More information on this shock is available here. The region, already affected by the previous event, is experiencing important damages and casualities. At least, 16 people were killed. More than 12,000 people moved to temporary shelters.

On June 6th, a M4.5 earthquake occurred near Ravenna, 50 km East of the recent earthquakes sequence.


More information

Earthquake sequence

The sequence follows a serie of moderate to strong earthquakes that occurred in Northern Italy in January 2012 (see map below) in the vicinity of Ferrara.

The M5.8 and M5.5 earthquakes of May 29th show a migration of the seismicity to the West.


Several moderate to strong earthquakes in Northern Italy since January 2012

(Yellow: January 2012 ; Red: May 2012)


 Magnitude   Number of events from May 20th to June 18th within 50 km
 M > 3 207
 M > 4 33
 M > 5 6

Earthquakes distribution of the Ferrara sequence of May 2012


In April 2009, the damaging L'Aquila earthquake, of magnitude Mw 6.3, stroke 300 km South East of Ferrara, in the Abruzzo region where 300 victims were reported.

In September 1997, another seismicity sequence was recorded in Colfiorito, near Assisi, 240 km South East of Ferrara. A magnitude 5.7 event occurred, followed 9 hours later by a magnitude 6.0.

Though the time delay between the two significant shocks is much larger in May 2012 with 9 days apart, the sequence observed in the Ferrara region follows the same pattern.

The general pattern of a seismicity sequence consists of a mainshock followed by several aftershocks, i.e. earthquakes in the same area whose magnitude tends to decrease with time. This was observed in L'Aquila for example. However, like in Colfiorito, the largest event can occurr several hours after the first shock.


Earthquakes locations

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Intensity map

(generated with the results of the online questionnaire)
(click to enlarge)


Intensity map computed for the May 20th 2012 event


Send us pictures or videos

You were on the spot and you have taken photos or videos of earthquake effects (on buildings, ground, landscape), please send us your files. Send them by mail, MMS or upload them directly from your computer. Just click on the link below :

Send us pictures or videos of the main shock effects
After validation your files will be displayed on this page.


The photos collected by Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia are available online.

A video of earthquake effects from the CNN. In the second part of the video, you can see indications of liquefaction effects.


Epicenters location

The May 20th and 29th event locations are 15km apart.


Main Shock Epicenter Location of the May 20th M 6.1 event


Main Shock Epicenter Location of the May 29th M 5.8 event


Past Regional Seismicity as from the ISC catalogue (1964-2004)

and EMSC Real Time catalogue (2005-today)


Moment Tensors Solutions of the May 20th M 6.1 event
Moment Tensors Solutions of the May 29th M 5.8 event