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Faulting of the Roman aqueduct of Venafrum (southern Italy): Methods of investigation, results, and seismotectonic implications

By
Paolo A.C. Galli
Paolo A.C. Galli
Dipartimento Protezione Civile Nazionale, Via Vitorchiano 4, 00189 Rome, Italy, and Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Istituto Geologia Ambientale Geoingegneria, Monterotondo Scalo, 00016 Rome, Italy
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Alessandro Giocoli
Alessandro Giocoli
Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Istituto di Metodologie per l'Analisi Ambientale, 85050 Tito Scalo (PZ), Italy
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Jose A. Naso
Jose A. Naso
Dipartimento Protezione Civile Nazionale, Via Vitorchiano 4, 00189 Rome, Italy
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Sabatino Piscitelli
Sabatino Piscitelli
Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Istituto di Metodologie per l'Analisi Ambientale, 85050 Tito Scalo (PZ), Italy
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Enzo Rizzo
Enzo Rizzo
Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Istituto di Metodologie per l'Analisi Ambientale, 85050 Tito Scalo (PZ), Italy
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Stefania Capini
Stefania Capini
Direzione Regionale Beni Culturali e Paesaggistici del Molise, 86100 Campobasso, Italy
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Luigi Scaroina
Luigi Scaroina
Istituto Nazionale di Archeologia e Storia dell'Arte, Piazza San Marco, 49, 00186 Rome, Italy
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Published:
October 01, 2010

We present evidence of surface faulting of a poorly known first-century B.C. aqueduct in central-southern Italy. Data were acquired by means of geological, geophysical, and geodetical surveys along the surficial trace of a primary active fault (Aquae Iuliae fault). The ~30-km-long Venafrum aqueduct presents a net vertical offset of almost 4 m at the intersection with this normal fault. This fact reveals the occurrence of repeated faulting of the Roman water supply after its construction, i.e., during large historical earthquakes, the last being one of the most violent events to happen in Italy during the Middle Ages (September 1349, Mw = 6.6). We tentatively associate the remaining offset of the aqueduct to other poorly characterized earthquakes in the area, which were not previously associated with any active fault. It is a well-known fact that the recognition of ancient earthquakes on archaeological relics is a matter of debate in archaeoseismology, being difficult at all times—and often impossible—to ascertain whether the damage observed should be related to seismic shaking or other causes (i.e., wars, floods, fires, decadence, etc.). Conversely, the exceptional case represented by the faulting of an archaeological relic such as this provides certain and reliable data on the causative seismogenic source and the associated earthquakes.

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GSA Special Papers

Ancient Earthquakes

Manuel Sintubin
Manuel Sintubin
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Celestijnenlaan, Leuven, Belgium
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Iain S. Stewart
Iain S. Stewart
School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Plymouth, Fitzroy, Drake Circus, Plymouth, Devon, UK
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Tina M. Niemi
Tina M. Niemi
Department of Geosciences, University of Missouri-Kansas City, Kansas City, Missouri, USA
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Erhan Altunel
Erhan Altunel
Department of Geological Engineering, Eskisehir Osmangazi University, Eskisehir, Turkey
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Geological Society of America
Volume
471
ISBN print:
9780813724713
Publication date:
October 01, 2010

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