History of Geology

History of Geology

What rocks tell and how we came to understand it

September 26, 1997: The quake of Assisi


In the early afternoon of September 26, 1997 a sequence of earthquakes hit the Italian province of Umbria. The two main quakes, with a magnitude of 5.6-5.8, were followed by a series of aftershocks - one aftershock was so strong that it caused the partial collapse of the damaged roof of the basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. This event was filmed during a meeting to evaluate the damage sustained by the historic frescos of the ceiling.

Fig.1. Four persons were killed when the roof of the basilica of Assisi suddenly collapsed. Like a grim reminder that earthquakes are frequent events in the Apennines a fresco in another basilica - possibly painted by the great artist Giotto (1267-1337)- shows a woman recovering the body of her daughter from a collapsed building. The legend attributes the destruction to an earthquake and tells also the miraculous reanimation of the dead daughter by St. Francis (image in public domain).

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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