A cura di MIUR - Direzione Generale per il coordinamento la promozione e la valorizzazione della ricerca

Earth, air and water: knowing our planet


The current mission of the National institute of geophysics and volcanology (INGV) focuses on the observation, monitoring and understanding of geophysical phenomena in both the fluid and solid components of our planet. INGV is in charge of the surveillance of the seismicity and volcanic activity through state-of-the-art instrumental networks that feed theoretical and applied research activities. The combination of experimental and theoretical studies is the main trait of INGV and one of the main reasons of its success.


INGV was born through a process of merging, reorganizing and rationalizing of the entire national research network (refer to the Italian Law n.381 of 29 September 1999) dedicated to:

  • the investigation of geophysical, seismic and volcanic phenomena,
  • the understanding of the mechanisms that control the evolution of our planet, and
  • the assessment and mitigation of seismic and volcanic risk.

The surveillance of seismicity and volcanic activity is operated through a number of high-tech, state-of-the-art instrumental networks distributed over the Italian territory or concentrated around active volcanoes. The incoming signals are transmitted in real-time to the operations rooms in Rome, Naples and Catania, where highly trained staff analyze them around-the-clock to obtain the main parameters of the ongoing events and processes.

Etna in eruptionEtna in eruption

The monitoring systems feed a significant scientific production - in 2011 over 450 INGV publications have been indexed in the Journal of Citation Reports (JCR) - based on research teams that hold an indisputable worldwide leadership in the scientific areas of reference.

Basic research on the one hand and measurements and observations on the other hand are essential and complementary aspects of the same process of understanding of the earth. As such they contribute equally to the technical and scientific progress in the areas of scientific interest for INGV, thus comprising perhaps the main reasons of its success.

Along with the development of cutting-edge research and thanks to its own expertise on the assessment of natural hazards, INGV gives fundamental support to programs for risk mitigation at national, European and global scale. These programs include:

  • the mitigation of seismic and volcanic risk,
  • the forecast and management of air traffic emergencies caused by volcanic eruptions,
  • the prevention of pollution effects caused by accidental oil spills in the offshore,
  • the forecast of solar storm-related disturbances in the upper atmosphere.

In this highly challenging and competitive context, INGV strives to consolidate its reference role for the Italian government on the evaluation and prevention of natural risks, such as in the case of the elaboration and update of the parameters needed for new buildings and for seismic retrofitting in seismic areas.

National seismic hazard mapsNational seismic hazard maps

The quick growth of INGV in areas where its leadership is consolidated shows that there still exists an important potential for expansion in new innovative sectors such as the development of geothermal energy, the capture and storage of CO2 and methane and the assessment of the environmental impact and sustainability of the exploitation of such new technologies. These range from undesired effects on humans and their environment, such as the induced seismicity, to the potential effects on climate and on the oceans.

INGV operates in close collaboration with the Italian Ministry of Instruction, University and Research (MIUR) and has priority agreements with the Civil Protection Department (DPC) and with other authorities in charge of managing the  emergencies, both on a national scale and on a local scale. INGV also collaborates with the Italian Ministry of Environment, of Defense and of Foreign Affairs in the framework of national and international strategic projects.  It pays special attention to the diffusion scientific culture and to developing a new awareness of risks and on how to prevent and mitigate them. These goals are pursued through teaching tools addressed to the education system at different levels from primary to high schools (i.g. museums and temporary exhibitions dedicated to natural risks and to their impact on the environment or dedicated web pages and social networks).

AR - Arezzo Osservatorio Sismologico
VULCANO - Centro M. Carapezza Vulcano
CMCC - Centro Mediterraneo Cambiamenti Climatici
CNT - Centro Nazionale Terremoti
STROMBOLI - Centro Operativo Stromboli
GIBILMANNA - Gibilmanna Osservatorio Geofisico
OSS-LIPARI - Lipari Osservatorio Geofisico
OSS-MESSINA - Messina Osservatorio Geofisico
ERCOLANO - Museo di Ercolano
OSS-ROCCA-DI-PAPA - Rocca di Papa Osservatorio Geofisico
AQ - Sede de L'Aquila
PORTOVENERE - Sede di Portovenere
GM - Sede Irpinia Grottaminarda
BO - Sezione di Bologna
CT - Sezione di Catania Osservatorio Etneo CT
ROMA2 - Sezione di Geomagnetismo, Aeronomia e Geofisica Ambientale
OV - Sezione di Napoli Osservatorio Vesuviano
PA - Sezione di Palermo Geochimica
PI - Sezione di Pisa
MI - Sezione di Sismologia Applicata all'Ingegneria
ROMA1 - Sezione di Sismologia e Tettonofisica
Publication date 02/18/2013