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Vol. 53, n.1, March 2012
pp. 147-168

Evidence of CO2-gas emission variations in the central Apennines (Italy) during the L’Aquila seismic sequence (March-April 2009)

P. BONFANTI, N. GENZANO, J. HEINICKE, F. ITALIANO, G. MARTINELLI, N. PERGOLA, L. TELESCA and V. TRAMUTOLI

(Received: August 30, 2010; accepted: September 1, 2011 )

Abstract

The occurrence of intense CO2 degassing processes generating hundreds of cold CO2- rich gas emissions is typical of the central Apennines. In 2009, significant anomalies were detected coinciding with the L’Aquila seismic sequence as a consequence of a wide degassing process. Over the same time-span, space-time anomalies in Thermal InfraRed (TIR) satellite imagery possibly related to the increase of green-house gas (such as CO2, CH4, etc.) emission rates were detected in central Italy during the seismic swarm by a Robust Satellite Technique (RST) data analysis. A gas geochemical survey carried out in the L’Aquila area confirms the deep crustal origin of the anomalous gas emission detected by ground measurements. Anomalous fluid related signals were recorded some days before the mainshock coinciding with the most marked TIR anomalies independently detected by the RST analysis over 3 different types of satellite data. Anomalous gas emissions detected by ground measurements lasted some weeks, putting in evidence relationships with crustal deformative processes associated with the seismic sequence. Together with previous ground observations in the Umbria-Marche area, present ground and satellite TIR observations, are compatible with the hypothesis that a central Apennines area, much wider than the L’Aquila (March-April 2009) epicentral one, was actually affected by anomalous increases in CO2 release thus providing new tools to better understand the processes occurring behind a seismic shock.

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