For some days now, Europe has been experiencing dramatic moments. The conflict that is sweeping Ukraine brings gloom to society as a whole.
"Historia magistra vitae" wrote Cicero, but not always men, peoples, remember the events of the past and, such a poor memory, results in the loss of the lessons that history gives to the present, including earthquakes.
To always keep the light on of what happened and what must never happen again, INGV has created the "Page of Memory" which, with the sponsorship of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI), the Jewish Community of Rome and of the Jewish Museum of Bologna, publishes the testimonies and family documents of those who, members of the Italian academic and scientific community, were affected by the racial laws enacted in 1938.
At the time, in fact, culture in our country suffered a severe blow. Not only were teachers of all levels forced to compress their ideas within the political doctrine imposed by the fascist government, but many intellectuals, scientists, professors and students were expelled from cultural institutions; others, on the other hand, managed to flee abroad thus contributing to the scientific and cultural development of the country that had welcomed them.
The INGV initiative was promoted in particular by Aldo Winkler and Micol Todesco, and immediately received the support of Senator Liliana Segre; the accessions of various other institutions followed, from the Accademia dei Lincei with its President Roberto Antonelli, to the National Research Council through the President Maria Chiara Carrozza. The CNR, in fact, participates in the research activities aiming to reconstruct the events connected to the applications of the measures in defense of the race within the CNR, reconstructing the biographical profiles and the professional and scientific careers of the victims of persecutions.
Turning to purely scientific topics, there is no doubt that Italian cities are exposed to numerous forms of pollution. Among them, the one deriving from the particulate matter (PM) produced by urban traffic is harmful both for man and for the cultural heritage of the cities of art.
INGV has for years been engaged in the study of the characteristics and nature of fine particles, largely due to car brakes, using original laboratory techniques linked to the magnetism of rocks. Recently, a team of researchers from INGV, the Accademia dei Lincei and the University of Siena concluded a study on the trees of the Lungotevere and the Gardens of Villa Farnesina in Rome, verifying the effects of vehicular traffic pollution through biomonitoring magnetic field of lichens and the analysis of the leaves which accumulate the automotive particulate, limiting their entry into the loggias and the consequent damage to the masterpieces of Raffaello Sanzio. A theme, that of green areas, whose importance has been reaffirmed in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan which aims to implement the necessary actions to protect nature and safeguard biodiversity to improve the quality of life and well-being of citizens .
And, again in this scientific field, the initiative "ClimArt - images of change" is inserted. The INGV researchers and the students of an art school talk about climate change using the language of art, through the graphic and pictorial works of the students. ClimArt's works have been collected in a volume published by INGV and exhibited at Villa Pamphilj in Rome.
In Italy, the Sicilian volcanoes continue to be talked about. In particular, Etna resumed its paroxysmal activity on February 10, 2022. On this occasion, the Etna Observatory opened two "windows" on Sicilian volcanoes, two streaming TV channels which broadcast real-time images of the volcano surveillance. Using the strength of the GARR network, these TV channels add to the environmental and thermal footage that has been visible for years on the INGV sites.
We talk about volcanoes and eruptions, in our virtual living room, with the guest of honour: Luca D'Auria, Director of the volcanic surveillance area of the Volcanological Institute of the Canary Islands (Involcan). D'Auria, who began his scientific career at the INGV Vesuvius Observatory, told us about some aspects of the eruption that affected the Cumbre Vieja volcano in La Palma.
The very fine volcanic ashes are deposited in the sediments present in every corner of our planet and preserve the history of our world. This is what we discovered in Antarctica where an international team of researchers led by INGV has achieved results that open up new perspectives in understanding the eruptive history of the Antarctic continent. We talk about it in the section La Fucina di Efesto with the Tracers project manager.
Our journey returns to Italy, where the strong earthquakes that have hit urban centers in recent decades have demonstrated the unawareness of the seismic performance of buildings and infrastructures in the area.
Knowing the "state of health" of a structure in an area highly exposed to seismic risk, in fact, makes it possible to evaluate and adopt resilience policies well before a critical event occurs, thus allowing not only to reduce and/or optimize investments but, above all, to reduce the consequences associated with the event.
With this in mind, INGV has created the first Urban Seismic Observatory in Italy in Catania. With the PON an Early Warning System for cultural heritage project, more than 20 seismic stations have been installed to monitor the "state of health" of the city's structures and infrastructures in the event of an earthquake, also allowing an estimation of the intensity of the almost immediate, so as to speed up the rescue machine. We talk about it with the project manager in the Il Pennino section of the Sismografo.
And, to return to the initial brocardo, the memory of the calamities that have occurred in the past is useful for keeping alive within us that sufficient fear that drives us to virtuous preventive actions.
In February 1783, Calabria and Sicily were hit by one of the longest seismic crises in our area. It all began on February 5 with a strong earthquake in Calabria, which was followed by many others in the following three years. The numerous seismic events also caused tsunamis which caused victims and considerable damage. We studied the event in detail in the column La Terra Racconta, in an interview with the researchers of the Tsunami Alert Center who described what happened then and the activities that the CAT is carrying out today to prevent similar consequences.
Our monthly journey continues with the usual virtual tour of the INGV facilities. This time, with its Director, we open the doors of the Rome 2 Section which mainly deals with geomagnetism and ionospheric physics, passing through paleomagnetism, crustal geophysics and oceanography. A leading scientific section in the scientific fields of its competence, which offers important contributions to the implementation of knowledge in seismology and volcanology.
Finally, our journey into the world of research ends in the Geophysical and Seismometric Instrumentation Laboratory of the National Earthquake Observatory. Born almost thirty years ago as part of the technical activities of the National Seismic Network, today it is a point of reference for seismic sensor testers and for the design of new instruments.
Enjoy the reading!