The Seismic Monitoring and Research Group in the Department of Geosciences, has recently been awarded a €120,000 grant in the Energy and Water Agency R&I Project Support Scheme to carry out an innovative research project called SIGMA – Seismic Imaging of Groundwater for Maltese Aquifers. The project, which will run for 2 years, will use a novel approach towards imaging the spatial and temporal characteristics of our aquifers.
Seismic ambient noise is made up of continuous vibrations of the ground surface and shallow rock layers due to natural and anthropogenic sources such as wind, waves and traffic. These vibrations move in all directions as surface wave-trains, whose speed depends on the properties of the rocks through which they pass, including water content. A large data set of such noise is available on stations of the Malta Seismic Network and other temporary instruments, spanning the whole archipelago. The project will use signal processing techniques on this data, mainly cross-correlation of noise between pairs of stations, to extract information about the subsurface, and track temporal and spatial changes in water content at different scales.
These changes will be related to in situ borehole readings and meteorological parameters, thus hoping to validate the method as an additional tool for groundwater management. The proposed technique will provide subsurface imaging with much wider coverage than single-point boreholes, as it links all possible station pairs. It is also cost-effective, since it utilises an ever-present source, and environmentally friendly, being completely non-invasive.
The "Last Mile Tsunami" project was launched and funded by the EU in 2018, after two tsunamis in the Aegean Sea affected the coasts of Greece and Turkey in Kos and Bodrum last year. The second phase of the project has been going on in Malta and Indonesia since last August.
The expected results are maps of areas at risk of tsunami flooding, the identification of appropriate escape routes and the experimental installation of tsunami signs to direct the population, the implementation of a local network to quickly detect the possibility of a tsunami earthquake, as well as measuring the tsunami wave path, thus alerting the local community in time.
The need to warn the population at risk in the event of a tsunami is a challenge in the Mediterranean region for many reasons, ranging from a lack of risk perception to the complexity of technological solutions.
SIMIT THARSY addresses issues related to the joint management of emergencies caused by potentially tsunamigenic earthquakes.The project contributes to strengthening the data collection network and risk assessment systems for the population and buildings in the event of disasters that could occur in the areas affected by the Ibleo-Maltese fault. Furthermore, the project develops specific guidelines for the municipalities of the two territories in order to guarantee the rapid intervention in case of natural disasters along the cross-border area
The NEWS project "Nearshore hazard monitoring and Early Warning System" aims to develop an integrated monitoring and early warning system, as well as adaptation to risks from the sea, with the aim of signaling the possibility of flooding to the population in advance , erosion of sandy coasts and collapse of cliffs, as well as allowing the activation of safeguard measures to avoid damage to people and property.
Starting from an advanced modeling capacity of the sea conditions and their effects on the coast, one of the final results of the project will be the development of an APP able to spread among the population (fishermen, boaters, swimmers, etc.) alert.
The NEWS Project is funded under the “INTERREG VA Italia Malta” Cooperation Program and is coordinated by the “Kore” University of Enna. The Department of Civil Engineering and Architecture of the University of Catania, the University of Malta and the Libero Municipal Consortium of Ragusa also participate in the project. The NEWS project received the expression of interest from the Regional Department of Civil Protection of the Sicilian Region.
The SIMIT Project aimed at developing an integrated civil protection network between the Sicilian and Maltese bodies involved in the risk forecast, prevention and mitigation processes, and moreover in the planning and management of emergencies, to be further extended to the cross border countries.
- The 36th General Assembly of the European Seismological Commission
The SMRG was chosen to host the 36th General Assembly of the European Seismological Commission. The conference was held in the Mediterranean Conference Centre in Valletta from 2 to 7 September 2018. The final number of participants was a record 802. A Young Scientist Training Course was also held the week in the preceding week
The SMRG actively participates in Science in the City which is part of the EU-wide event: ‘European Researchers’ Night’, which takes place in over 30 countries and 300 cities simultaneously. Every year the SMRG comes up with different activities for kids and adults to learn about the field of seismology whilst having fun.
Members of the SMRG participate in outreach activities all year round and also host students of various ages at their laboratory. Visitors can see the real-time monitoring system, instruments used in seismic exploration techniques and also learn about the world of seismology. If you would like to organise a lab tour, you can contact us for more information.
- Georisks in the Mediterranean and their mitigation conference
“Georisks in the Mediterranean and their mitigation” was the theme of a 2-day international conference hosted by the University of Malta on the 20-21 July at Valletta Campus. Close to a hundred participants from 14 countries in Europe and North Africa came together to present their recent research and discuss a range of natural hazards, vulnerability and risk mitigation measures in, and beyond, the Mediterranean. The first day of the meeting was dedicated to the geology and geophysics of the Central Mediterranean, and the evaluation of hazard from earthquake, landslide and tsunami events, with a keynote presentation by Dr Damiano Pesaresi from OGS, Trieste about Regional seismic networks and Earthquake Early Warning systems. The second day focussed on the seismic vulnerability and risk assessment of buildings, urban areas and built heritage, as well as civil protection issues. A keynote presentation was delivered by Prof Andreas Kappos, of City University London, about fragility curves of masonry buildings. The whole conference was characterised by an interdisciplinary nature and the recognition that the understanding of, and damage mitigation from such events must necessarily rely on the close collaboration of the various disciplines.
The conference was an activity of the project SIMIT (Integrated Civil Protection System for the Italo-Maltese Cross-Border Area), a €2.5 million Strategic Project funded by the Italia-Malta 2007-2013 Operational Programme. It is led by the Regional Civil Protection Department of Sicily, while the other partners are the Universities of Palermo and Catania, the Civil Protection Department of Malta and the University of Malta. SIMIT is working towards the establishment of an integrated system which will facilitate the evaluation, forecasting, prevention and mitigation of losses from geological hazards affecting the Sicily Channel. This is being done through a virtual common operations room, comprising efficient networking and a dedicated portal for rapid exchange of information. It will also concentrate on the dissemination of a culture of risk awareness and emergency management procedures. The University of Malta is participating through the Department of Geosciences in the Faculty of Science and the Departments of Civil and Structural Engineering and of Construction and Property Management, Faculty of the Built Environment.