Correlation between pore fluid pressures and DInSAR post-seismic deformation of the May 20, 2012 Emilia-Romagna (Italy) earthquake
Abstract:The present work focuses on the detection and analysis of the postseismic surface deformations following the two earthquakes that hit the Emilia Romagna region (Italy) on May 20 and 29, 2012. The 2012 Emilia earthquake sequence struck the central sector of the Ferrara arc, which represents the external fold-and-thrust system of the Northern Apennines thrust belt buried below the Po plain. The May 20 event occurred on the Ferrara basal thrust at depth, at about 6-7 km, while, during the May 29 event, the rupture jumped on an inner splay of the Ferrara system.
The analysis of the postseismic displacements was carried out thanks to a dataset of SAR COSMO SkyMed images covering a time span of about one year (May 20, 2012 – May 11, 2013) after the May 20 event. The DInSAR results revealed the presence of two deformation patches: the first one is located in the area that experienced the coseismic uplift. Here the postseismic displacements point out a further ground uplift occurring along the first three months after the 20 May event. The second deformation patch is located in the villages of San Carlo and Mirabello, where ground subsidence lasting about four months was detected.
We hypothesized that both the observed phenomena are related to the pore pressure perturbation caused by the coseismic deformation. In particular, the ground uplift is due to the deep crustal deformations caused by the pore fluid diffusion at depth to re-establish the initial hydrostatic stresses. Instead, the ground subsidence is related to the compaction of the shallow sandy layers caused by the liquefaction phenomena, which widely affected the San Carlo and Mirabello area.
Preliminary numerical analyses performed with the Finite Element Method and empirical relations confirmed our hypothesis.