Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Obituary of Prof. Maurice Mattauer

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I have read today in the Geo-Tectonics distribution list the obituary of Prof. Maurice Mattauer, who passed away on the 8th of April of 2009. I copy it here, and please accept my apologises for the late posting, but I just read that this morning:
Homage to Professor Maurice Mattauer *
** Holding the latest scientific advice that he wanted to give on the earthquake of Aquila in Italy, to appear in the "Gazette de Montpellier", 9 April of this year, Professor Maurice Mattauer died accidentally at his home April 8 2009.
Born in 1928 in Sentheim (Alsace), he makes his higher education in Besançon, he joined the CNRS in 1951, to conduct a thesis in Ouarsenis Algérien, then it will work for the service of the Card. He returned to France, appointed Professor at the University of Montpellier in 1959 where he became the leader of the team of Structural Geology. It will remain at his post as leader of Geology montpelliéraine until 1996, then Professor Emeritus of the University of Montpellier 2 until 2003. It will continue until the last few days, to come to the meeting of young researchers and former students to give its advice and criticism.
Motivated and dynamic teacher, he brought his passion for geology, rocks and fossils, to generations of students, who followed his footsteps and then raised his voice and his methods in other universities.
His books and numerous publications in the direction of specialists in the discipline "Tectonics" or the general public to share his love of the mountains and rocks all have a huge national and international success.
The mountains were his passion, and has published numerous works in "écumant " first outcrops around Montpellier, discovering in himself, with his legendary flair, fossils largest in the region such as dinosaur eggs from the Upper Cretaceous. It will launch here the foundations of the modern tectonic mapping is special for students awarded by Montpellier. It shows the importance of observing the microstructures in the understanding of mountain ranges.
After the Pyrenees, the Alps and the Massif Central where he will propose the first coherent tectonic models, he embarked on the visit of the mountains of South America and Asia, in cooperation with the Andean countries and China. He will also visit the Mountains of North America, but also the Mediterranean for which he published in 2008, the last scientific article, full of new ideas and always served by the quality of its graphics innate.
All persons who have approached Maurice Mattauer and all students have recognized him quickly an outstanding scientist and passionate living for his Science.
It forms part of this, these few men, leading others by communicating their passion to advance or to excel. It was, ultimately, a chance to have met!
During his career Maurice Mattauer has received numerous awards and honors, especially the prices of Geological Societies of France and Belgium and the Academy of Sciences.
He was also promoted to the rank of Officer of the Legion of Honor.
Pr. Maurice Brunel, Montpellier
* His funeral have been held in Grammont-Montpellier on Tuesday 14 April *

Monday, 6 April 2009

Mw 6.3 Earthquake in Italy

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We got up this morning with the terrible news from Italy, where last night an earthquake affected significantly the location of L’Aquila in the Central Apennines region resulting in more than 90 killed (so far, at 14.00 GMT, and surely the number will increase in the next hours).

The Apennines are an accretionary wedge formed as consequence of the subduction of the Adriatic microplates under Italy from east to west, whilst from the south to the north the convergence of Africa against Europe builds the Alpine orogen and opening the Tyrrhenian sea to the west of the Italic peninsula.  

I won’t extend much in this entry; you can read better and more updated information in the news:


Sadly an Italian geophysicist predicted the event –kind of–. We cannot rely on predictions. We cannot expect –yet– to trust correlations between indirect measurements and seismic phenomena. What we can do?

What we can do as geologist is help the authorities educating people, promoting the knowledge of geohazards and how to behave in the case of an Earthquake. Authorities have in their hands the power of approve correct standards for construction. A 6.3 earthquake shouldn’t have caused any fatality in a rich country like Italy. Why it has been like that? Seismicity in the Central Apennines is not new. Historic earthquakes include the one  of 1997 (Mw 6.0) which includen in a period of 2 months several M5.0 events (the Umbria-Marche seimic sequence).

Our support to the people in despair for this earthquake.

(Later I will update this article with some images and corrections... I am sending this from my email!)