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This research was stimulated by the need to extend in time the record of Italy's largest earthquakes, which commonly have repeat times of the same order as the length of the available historical record. As a test case we used the 1908 Straits of Messina earthquake, a large event that geologists assume to recur at intervals of roughly a millennium but whose predecessors are as yet unknown. The 1908 earthquake caused enormous territorial upheaval and left signs in the settlements that are still largely recognizable today. We hypothesized that the Straits of Messina, which were densely populated even in...

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