Greece’s most seismically active regions

Seismologists are once more in the news, unfortunately, and their scientific estimates once again the focus of public interest, given that there has been some kind of tremor somewhere in the country nearly every day lately. Although there can be no real predictions of a quake, the Organization for Anti-Seismic Protection (OASP) has drawn up a list of the towns and areas in Greece that lie near a seismic fault line. Top of the list in Zone D are Argostoli and Sami on the island of Cephalonia, Zakynthos, Ithaca and Lefkada, all among the Ionian Islands. Corinth is is Zone C and Athens is in Zone B, along with Skyros. Seismologists are not in complete agreement on everything, including last Friday’s 4.7 Richter quake at the eastern end of the Gulf of Corinth, and this has only made people more concerned. Nature is unpredictable. So every scientific evaluation has to be made reservedly and cautiously, Athens Geodynamic Institute Director Giorgos Stavrakakis told Kathimerini, stressing that the aftershock activity in the Gulf of Corinth appears to be developing normally. What seismologists do know is that after a 6 Richter quake in the Ionian Sea there is a great deal of aftershock activity, where elsewhere the aftershocks might peter out after only a few days. Given the recent heightened seismic activity, an observation was made in an OASP study that on a national level, the total cost of strengthening older buildings is so great that people prefer to wait for buildings to deteriorate of their own accord; a statement that is extremely interesting, though also worrying. In the same study, titled Directions for Monitoring the Seismic Vulnerability of Public Buildings, OASP mentions 10 basic parameters affecting buildings’ resistance to earthquakes, which include the shape, height, area and whether there are factors such as illegal additions or poor workmanship. Of course the experts are continuing to discover signs pointing to an imminent earthquake. At Thessaloniki University’s Geophysics Laboratory, a group is studying 15 earthquakes in Turkey, eight in Italy and about 50 in Japan.