Edinburgh Scientists In Italy To Study Quake

31 August 2016, 11:23 | Updated: 31 August 2016, 11:24

A team of UK scientists has travelled to central Italy to study the aftershocks of the devastating earthquake that claimed 281 lives.

The 6.2-magnitude quake struck on August 24, levelling three small towns.

Aftershocks continued to hit the region in the days following the disaster, including one of a preliminary magnitude of 4.7.

Scientists from the British Geological Survey (BGS) and Edinburgh University working in the affected area will use seismometers to help better understand aftershocks and improve the emergency response.

Team leader Dr Margarita Segou, from 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.''

Three Britons were among those killed in the earthquake - teenager Marcos Burnett and married couple Maria and Will Henniker-Gotley.

It is believed Mr and Mrs Henniker-Gotley, from London, owned a property near Amatrice and Marcos and his family were staying with them.

Professor John McCloskey, from the School of Geosciences at Edinburgh University, said the work to understand the science of aftershocks had the potential to make a "real difference'' to the emergency response following quakes.

He said: "We now know exactly what is needed scientifically, logistically and technologically, we just need to get organised better to do it every time.

"We are actively trying to get funding for this vital work now and hope it will be all in place for the next big earthquake. The rapid response to this earthquake is helping us understand the critical issues.''