Professor Marmureanu - Vrancea Earthquakes Specifics and DACEA Project

Thank you very much for your coming here, this means people want to know more about earthquakes. I think time is too short to show what this system means. This system has been constructed by NIEP [National Institute for Earh Physics in Magurele, Romania] after a long European Project called 'Safer'. In a meeting that took place in Naples 2 weeks ago, the European Community authorities said that at that moment in the world there were two early warning systems in the world: one in Japan and one in Romania. Really, this is - I could say – a great success for our institute, and this project was made by a lot of people.

The initial ideas of the project were developed by a small group formed of my colleague, Doctor Constantin Ionescu, the current General Director of NIEP, my son Alexandru Mărmureanu, my colleague Adrian Grigore and myself. These four persons presented this project to the European Commission and I have to tell you something very interesting in connection to that: during the evaluation, there were 265 projects, but only 24 were nominated. There were also 18 professors and academicians from Europe and somebody said: 'What do 25 seconds or 28 seconds mean?' What is very interesting, one professor from Manchester University from England (in England there are no earthquakes) said: 'Do you know how much management you can make in 25 seconds?' You will see for yourselves today and tomorrow in our institute in Bucharest.

Well, the question was this: why? Why must we have this early warning system and why should it be installed only in Vrancea? Well, we can go ahead... This is a question asked by our manager... But the problem was... [slideshow starts] This is the Vrancea fascia, this is our country, and this corner over here is absolutely and really special: no other place in the world is like Vrancea area. This is a very limited area. And this place is supposed to withstand all of the strong Vrancea earthquakes. From this point of view, we are lucky because it is only in this place that there are strong earthquakes.

I will try to explain this phenomenon in just a few words. The tectonics of Vrancea area is really particular. We have some examples here, a lot of earthquakes... Strong earthquakes, or stronger earthquakes..., others are not that strong, etc... And for example professor Bonjer, who is here with us, we worked on one project together..., knows about that. Actually, all of the data are known to all the European researchers from all the universities and from the Earth Institute, too.

The last sentence on it... The type of seismicity in Vrancea has not been observed anywhere else on Earth. There are some [resembling] earthquakes in the Himalayan Mountains, the Hindu Kush Mountains, but of course these are just mountains, no one lives there... All of them are different of course from Vrancea area.

Well, I'm trying to explain just why Vrancea has so many particularities. This is the reason why our researchers from NIEP started to develop this system. I have to clarify something: this system is practically used for these Vrancea earthquakes, for the very deep ones. There are some many seconds, there is a long time between the moment when we are able to know the magnitude and the moment when the seismic waves are getting to Bucharest or other places. Vrancea area, we can see it on the right-hand side of the slide, the Carpathians over here, is under the influence of Africa. Africa is pushing the bottom of the Adriatic Sea and there is one fault between Albania and Slovenia and the entire system is rotating to the right, because the Metal Mountains in the Czech Republic and Slovakia are fixed. There is one fixed point in the Tyrol area in Austria, and the entire system is rotating and it is pushing into the Pannonian Basin and to Vrancea, to Brasov. This system pushes to Brasov area and creates an impact.

The next slide... You can see here in this zone the African plate and the whole system. You can see here, because this picture is very clear. What is strange to me in this picture is not something recent, that has been found out today or yesterday, but it dates back to more than 25 years ago. The earthquake specialists in Romania – and I don't understand this - didn't see this picture, although it has been made by European people, by geologists and earthquake specialists from other countries.

On the other hand , as I have repeatedly mentioned,: there is a very strong influence from Asia, which is pushing the Arabic plate and is pushing the Aegean system and then again is pushing on the other parts of Vrancea. And then Vrancea enters into a continental collision and this is a complete other system. I can see the tectonics in Vrancea pushing to the left and pushing to the right. There are some studies made by us or other people, according to which Transylvania is going up, I mean Braila is part of the Meotsian plate, which is going down some millimetres per year.

Let's understand what is happening under Vrancea: you see the high level is just a surface and the second level is more of a discontinuity... Many people know this from the geology classes. So, I was saying that this system is discontinuity of the velocity and of the direction in which the waves are moving and changing. And then up and down there are some slips. The researchers from ??? university said they are of about 400 km, but I don't know if it's 200 or 400.

Anyway, all Vrancea earthquakes are between 60 km and 200 km (deep). You can see the red points and the red circles, which illustrate some large Romanian earthquakes that took place in 1940, 1986, 1977, 1978, 1998... all of them had the same shape of rupture. This is very interesting...

This is the earthquake of 1977. My colleague Sever Georgescu from INCERC gave me some data about what the earthquake of 1977 meant to us: about 1,600 people dead, about 11,320 people injured, without legs and hands, a lot of apartment buildings went down, about 33-35 buildings from Iasi to Craiova were affected... And the problem is this: what intensity did that earthquake have? Anyway, it's not 8 MMI, and MSK is writing "slight vibrations of structures"... This is was not "slight"... "Only" 36 apartment buildings fell down and a lot of people were killed... This is the reason why we have to discuss together, meaning the group from INCERC and the Faculty of Civil Engineering, in order to change completely the seismic intensity map of Romania because the civil protection people, all of them, have to know this very well. I can tell you something very interesting: I was last May in Trieste. Back then, when I explained the intensity of the earthquake that took place on March the 4th (the intensity was "8"), somebody from Bangladesh said "hm, what does 8 mean after all?" He did not know what 8 meant for deep earthquakes, but knew only applied for crustal ones.

Then we wondered what we can do? And between Vrancea – as we can notice - when we have P-waves and Bucharest (the last one), there is lot of time. Here is one example: we first detect the P-waves in Vrancea and then, 29 seconds after that, the S-waves get to Bucharest. You know, there are 2 types of waves: the P-waves, which are moving vertically, and S-waves, which are moving horizontally and which are transporting about 75% of the earthquake energy. This is the time lag recorded by this system. The technical part of this system was covered by my colleague, Mr. Constantin Ionescu, and the software was made by other young people, and I mean Alexandru Mărmureanu.

This is the system about which I told you at the beginning, and this is the IST prize that was obtained in Vienna in 2006 (an information society technology system) and this is our logo and this is how we can use this EWS... We can notice here NIEP and the logo of Physical Institute from Karlsruhe. Why? Because at the beginning we started to discuss together, and here I have to thank again the people at the Karlsruhe University, professors Bonjer and Friedmann. It was an idea at the beginning... Of course we developed differently, because at the beginning it was not so easy because we were the first in the world to make this kind of system.

This [early warning system] has been used so far for our reactor in Magurele and at the National Institute of Atomic Physics. This is how the system is actually managed. Here on this slide you will notice the early warning system (EWS), the earthquake map and the disaster map. Based on this EWS, we can study the shake map and later we can study the disaster map, which is made by the Civil Protection Department in Ciolpani. We're giving to Ciolpani this EWS system to find finally how many apartment buildings are destroyed, how many people may have been killed or only injured. I have to thank very much to the Civil Protection Departments in Romania.

This was a World Bank project. This system is constructed not only for Muntenia, but it is constructed as well for Dobrogea and Transylvania. There are seven or eight centers...

Well, you'll see more about this tomorrow. You will even see the command room in Bucharest, which can receive and send the signals from Japan and Cape Canaveral to this entire part of the world, because we are connected to all of the systems in Asia, Europe and the Pacific Ocean.

I want to thank you very much for your attention! I wanted very much to present to you the reason why the tectonics in Vrancea enabled to develop this system, because this system is not working like any other system. And I'll give you an example: systems that are used in Italy and Japan apply to crustal eartquakes. This system is using this long delay between the P–waves in Vrancea area and ans S-waves, and when the magnitude is higher than 7 (degrees), then it starts working.

Thank you very much!

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