Scottish scientists are among a team of experts travelling to Italy to study aftershocks after the devastating earthquake that killed nearly 300 people there last week.
Seismologists from the University of Edinburgh and the British Geological Survey (BGS) will deploy special monitoring equipment in the country’s mountainous central region, which was hit by a 6.2-magnitude quake and several aftershocks on 24 August.
They hope analysis of ground movement in the wake of the tremor will provide new insights that could help guide emergency responses to such incidents in future.
Project leader Dr Margarita Segou, of the BGS, said: “Large earthquakes are always followed by aftershocks, which can severely hamper emergency response and are sources of concern for the displaced population.
“The aim of this immediate scientific response is to improve our understanding of aftershock sequences.
“The high-resolution data we are collecting will shed light on how earthquakes nucleate and trigger cascades of aftershocks.
“Ultimately, we want to make this knowledge operationally useful, particularly with respect to building resilience in a post-disaster environment.”
Professor John McCloskey, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Geo-sciences, added: “This experience clearly identifies the work that needs to be done if we are to use our developing understanding of aftershock science to make a real difference to emergency response.
“We now know exactly what is needed scientifically, logistically and technologically. We just need to get organised better to do it every time.”
Hundreds of wooden huts are being built over the next three months to house the 2,500 people left homeless by the disaster.