1805 Molise earthquake

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1805 Molise earthquake
1805 Molise earthquake is located in Italy
1805 Molise earthquake
Local date July 26, 1805 (1805-07-26)
Magnitude6.6 Me
Epicenter41°30′00″N 14°28′01″E / 41.5°N 14.467°E / 41.5; 14.467Coordinates: 41°30′00″N 14°28′01″E / 41.5°N 14.467°E / 41.5; 14.467
Areas affectedMolise, Campania, Kingdom of Naples
Max. intensityX (Extreme)

The 1805 Molise earthquake occurred on July 26 at 21:01 UTC. It has an estimated magnitude of 6.6 on the equivalent magnitude scale (Me) (calculated from seismic intensity data) and a maximum perceived intensity of X on the Mercalli intensity scale.[1] The area of greatest damage was between the towns of Isernia and Campobasso, while the area of intense damage extended over about 2,000 square kilometres.[2] There were an estimated 5,573 deaths resulting from this earthquake and two of the aftershocks.[2]

Tectonic setting[edit]

The Southern Apennines originated as northeast moving fold and thrust belt. Since the Middle Pleistocene, the tectonics has been dominated by extension. The axial part of the Apennines is the most seismically active, with a series of damaging historical earthquakes up to about 7 in magnitude. The major normal fault in the epicentral area of the 1805 event is the Bojano fault system.[3]


The earthquake was a result of movement on the NW–SE trending Bojano fault system. A surface rupture of 40 km has been attributed to this event, with a maximum displacement of 150 cm.[3] The mainshock was preceded by a series of low intensity foreshocks throughout the previous day. The aftershock sequence continued until the following June.[1]


Place Intensity Population Dead Injured Comments
Baranello X 2420 296 204 Town completely destroyed
Cantalupo nel Sannio X 2000 220 42 Nearly complete destruction of the town
Carpinone X 2240 50 49 Nearly complete destruction of the town
Castelpagano X 2100 159 18 Only three houses left standing
Frosolone X 3800 1000 46 Town completely destroyed
Guardiaregia X 2000 202 40 Nearly complete destruction of the town
San Massimo X 1280 41 54 Nearly complete destruction of the town
San Polomatese X 1000 128 20 The few remaining houses were uninhabitable
Casalciprano IX-X 1300 186 30 Nearly complete destruction of the town
Castelpetroso IX-X 2000 57 40 Many houses collapsed, the rest were badly damaged
Gildone IX-X 2200 26 ? More than half the houses were destroyed and many others had to be demolished
Isernia IX-X 4970 1000 50 Only a tenth of the houses were left standing, although badly damaged
Mirabello Sannitico IX-X 2000 359 31 The baronial palace was destroyed
Pesche IX-X 1500 3 4
Sant’Angelo in Grotte IX-X 1100 64 100 Two churches were destroyed, a third was damaged
Sassinoro IX-X 1500 59 75 The few remaining houses were uninhabitable
Spinete IX-X 2400 300 19 The chapel of San Giovanni was badly damaged
Toro IX-X 2400 274 88 Only seven houses left standing
Vinchiaturo IX-X 3000 305 214 Nearly complete destruction of the town
Bojano IX 2550 124 ? Larger buildings were particularly badly affected, including the Bishop's Palace, the Cathedral, the Monastery and 12 churches
Cameli IX 1500 55 25 Nearly complete destruction of the town
Campobasso IX 5700 39 60 The prison was so damaged as to be unusable
Colle d'Anchise IX 1200 50 30 Nearly half of the village was destroyed
Macchiagodena IX 2000 193 11
San Giuliano del Sannio IX 2000 92 90
Sepino IX 3400 63 40 The cathedral collapsed
Sessano del Molise IX 1500 9 4
Arpaia VIII-IX 987 11 ? 32 buildings collapsed
Busso VIII-IX 1500 70 83 The hilly parts of the town suffered the most damage
Campodipietra VIII-IX 11 50 Half the town was badly damaged
Civita VIII-IX 900 36
Colle Sannita VIII-IX 4000 44
Jelsi VIII-IX 207 27
Reino VIII-IX 800 2 18 houses collapsed
Ripalimosani VIII-IX 3500 2 2
Torella del Sannio VIII-IX 1300 6 12
Vitulano VIII-IX 6433 4
Agnone VIII 4000 9
Avellino VIII 10194 11 4
Civitavecchia VIII 1150 2
Fossaceca VIII 2500 12 6
Macchia d'Isernia VIII 684 2
Monteroduni VIII 1600 5 1
Morcone VIII 7
San Martino Sannita VIII 3156 5 13 houses collapsed
Santa Maria Capua Vetere VIII 80 80 soldiers died when the cavalry barracks collapsed
Serino VIII 8000 4
Torrecuso VIII 2900 1

The damage was particularly intense in the foothills of the Matese massif and the Bojano plain, with 30 towns and villages being severely affected. Damage was recorded as far away as Naples and Salerno.[1] Landslides and other slope failures were seen over an area of about 5,300 square kilometres.[3]

The official number of recorded deaths is given as 5,573, representing nearly 3% of the area's inhabitants, with a further 1,583 injured.[1] Other estimates of the death toll are in the range 4,000 to 6,000.[3]



The most affected area lay within the then Kingdom of Naples. The king, Ferdinand IV, took control of the response to this disaster. He sent Gabriele Giannocoli, a tax lawyer, to visit those areas of the countryside that has suffered the most, to evaluate the situation and to do what needed to be done. He was given considerable powers, together with the financial means, to allow him to carry out his task. He concentrated on visiting the most damaged areas, relying on reports from other officials in less affected parts. At his request, soldiers were sent to restore order and to prevent looting in some areas. Only properties in a dangerous state were repaired or demolished. Temporary shelters were provided for the homeless and huts for use as hospitals. Taxes were suspended by the king for all of the countryside around Molise in August.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "The Catalogue of Strong Italian Earthquakes describes this earthquake sequence under the following heading". Catalogue of strong earthquakes in Italy 461 B.C. — 1997 and Mediterranean area 760 B.C. — 1500. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  2. ^ a b "The application of INQUA Scale to the 1805 Molise earthquake" (PDF). Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d Serva L.; Esposito E.; Guernieri L.; Porfido S.; Vittori E.; Comerci V. (2007). "Environmental effects from five historical earthquakes in southern Apennines (Italy) and macroseismic intensity assessment: Contribution to INQUA EEE Scale Project" (PDF). Quaternary International. 173–174: 30–44. doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2007.03.015.