Seismic microzonation

The location of Italian Peninsula at the convergence between the African and Eurasian plates, makes it a Country with high level of seismic hazard.
The relationship between the damage and the energy released by earthquakes is much stronger in Italy than in other Countries with high seismicity, such as California or Japan. This is mainly because our Country is characterized by the presence of historical centers with buildings that often are not adequate to support seismic forces.
Our historical memory is full of catastrophic events related to seismic events, like Messina 1908, Avezzano 1915, Friuli 1976, Irpinia 1930, 1962 and 1980, up to the most recent Umbria - Marche 1997, S. Giuliano di Puglia 2002, Abruzzo 2009 and Emilia 2012, that caused about 130000 deaths and inestimable damage to built and artistic heritage.
We don't know how to predict the occurrence of earthquakes, so the only applicable strategy to reduce demages and losts is to limit their effects.
On this regard seismic microzonation (SM) represents a key planning tool, which allows to identify zones with homogeneous seismic behaviour.
SM idea comes from the observation that after destructive earthquakes different degrees of damage of similar buildings, separates by only a few hundreds of meters is frequently decteted. This is mainly due to the different local seismic response in terms of amplitude, frequency and duration of seismic motion due to site-specific lithostratigraphic and morphological conditions.
In practice, SM identifies and characterizes stable zones, stable zones prone to local amplification of seismic movement and zones prone to instability.
At the beginning of 2015 on the initiative of the National Research Council-Department of Earth System Science and Technology for the Environment (CNR DTA) and the Institute of Environmental Geology and Geoengineering (CNR IGAG), the Center for Seismic Microzonation and its applications - CentroMS ( was founded to address the need to coordinate the Italian players operating on these issues.
CentroMS aims to provide scientific and technical support to the institutions involved in seismic microzonation, with particular reference to urban and emergency planning and to offer training and information, which are essential activities for the prevention of seismic risk.