How Common Are Earthquakes In Italy? Its Location Is Right On A Seismic Fault Line

A severe 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck the Apennine region of Central Italy early Wednesday morning. Currently, the earthquake has left behind a death toll of at least 73 people, according to the Civil Protection Agency, with 150 more feared missing, among them two Afghan refugees and three nuns. You might be wondering how common earthquakes are in Italy. Due to its location, the country has experienced a common string of earthquakes in the past four decades, The New York Times reported.

But Wednesday's earthquake is being considered as one of Italy's worst so far, with Reuters reporting that residents of Rome, around 105 miles away from the epicenter, were woken up by the tremors. The epicenter was only 4 km below the surface of the earth, which has made the effects of the earthquake more severe and dangerous, according to Reuters.

The earthquake has wrecked a cluster of towns and villages in Central Italy, in particular devastating the village of Accumuli, town of Amatrice and the Pescana del Tronto and Posta area. The disaster, going by the scope of the wreckage so far, brings to memory an earthquake the country experienced in 2012, which left 23 dead and 14,000 homeless in the northern Emilia Romagna region.

FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images

The deadliest earthquake on Italian soil in modern memory happened in 2009, when the city of L'Aquila lost over 300 people. In general, it seems that earthquakes in the country can be deemed relatively common. According to the Foreign Office, as reported by The Telegraph, "Many parts of Italy lie on a major seismic fault line." This means that minor and major tremors are frequent, making earthquakes quite common.

The Civil Protection Agency told The Telegraph that over 3,000 earthquakes have occurred over the past thousand years. The Agency continued:

Almost 300 of them (with a magnitude higher than 5.5) had destructive effects and one every ten years has catastrophic effects, with an energy comparable to the L'Aquila earthquake of 2009. Any Italian municipality can be affected by earthquake effects, [but] the strongest earthquakes are focused in the following areas: Northern-Eastern Italy (Friuli Venezia Giulia and Veneto), Western Liguria, Northern Apennines (from Garfagnana to the Rimini area), and, above all, across the Central and Southern Apennines, in Calabria and Eastern Sicily.

In the past four decades, Italy has survived five major earthquakes, with the worst one — a 6.9-magnitude quake — happening in the south of Naples, racking up a death toll of more than 2,700 people in 1980.

According to the BBC, which spoke with seismologist Andrea Tertulliani, we should be prepared for more numerous shocks, which may or may not diminish in intensity. It seems like earthquakes are a common danger for those who live in the Apennine area in Italy, and the latest quake only added to that.