Earthquake prediction – some thoughts and four interviews

Since the L’Aquila trial has caused a lot of attention and an outcry of the scientific community, topics like earthquake prediction and earthquake forecasting are widely discussed in blogs and media. Often enough, people that claim to be scientists pretend they could predict earthquakes. These pseudo-predictions are based either on measuring geophysical phenomena (like temperature, gas emissions, electromagnetic fields, light phenomena, sun-moon-earth tidal forces and interactions etc.), animal behaviour (toads, snakes, dogs etc.) or even crazier things (horoscopes, blasphemy, earthquake weapons…). None of these “methods” works. Earthquake prediction is currently not possible. Continue reading “Earthquake prediction – some thoughts and four interviews”

What’s up? The Friday links (46)

For me the most important geo news this week was the court decision on the L’Aquila trial on Monday. A local court sentenced six scientists and one official for manslaughter to six years in prison – 2 years more than claimed by the prosecutor. Even though the scientists may not have found the best words to describe the earthquake hazard in L’Aquila, the decision is ridiculous in my opinion and caused an outcry throughout the scientific community. Especially the consequences for any risk assessment and public information might be fatal. I am really concerned. In the following I link to some blog posts that I found particularly interesting:

Continue reading “What’s up? The Friday links (46)”

L’Aquila trial: Italian scientists guilty of manslaughter – up to six years in prison

Breaking news are sad ones for the earthquake community. A court in Italy found seven scientists guilty of manslaughter in multiple cases and sentenced them to prison. The scientists had to give a statement about the likelyhood of a major quake after a series of tremors occurred in L’Aquila. They stated that there was no higher risk for a forthcoming major event; few days later a M6.3 earthquake devastated the historical city and more than 300 people died.

The scientific community tried to support the italian scientists by clarifying that earthquake prediction is still impossible. Also, more than 5000 scientists signed an open letter in support of the Italian colleagues. This is surely a sad day for earthquake geology and I am sure it will change the way we communicate our findings to the public and to officials.

Special Issue on the 2012 Emilia (Italy) earthquakes in Annals of Geophysics

Annals of Geophysics, the former Annali di Geofisica, published its latest issue today, dedicated to the 2012 Northern Italy earthquakes: Vol 55, No 4 (2012): The Emilia (northern Italy) seismic sequence of May-June, 2012: preliminary data and results. On 20 May 2012 an earthquake with a magnitude of Mw6.1 hit Finale Emilia, on 29 May an Mw5.8 event followed. The earthquakes caused a number of fatalities and significant damage. Earthquake environmental effects were widely observed, too. Continue reading “Special Issue on the 2012 Emilia (Italy) earthquakes in Annals of Geophysics”

New papers – Minoan earthquakes, catastrophism, archaeoseismology in Israel, Costa Concordia

Currently I spend my time working on some papers that deal with tsunamis in the Eastern Mediterranean and earthquakes in Spain. Searching for literature and looking for data on the Minoan catastrophe I came across this new open access publication by Simon Jusseret and Manuel Sintubin:

Our colleagues from IGCP567 – Earthquake Archaeology put a lot of effort into getting rid of catastrophism and into making archeoseismology a more reliable, quantitative science. By the way, don’t miss the next workshop on archeoseismology and active tectonics in Mexico 2012! Continue reading “New papers – Minoan earthquakes, catastrophism, archaeoseismology in Israel, Costa Concordia”

Paleoseismological trench at the Finale Emilia earthquake site

A paleoseismological trench has been opened at San Carlo – Sant’Agostino. At this place, liquefaction features and other environmental earthquake effects were recognized after the Finale Emilia earthquake of 2 May 2012, magnitude MW6.1. The trench reveals normal fault features close to the surface. Our colleague Alex Chatzipetros from Earthquake Geology of Greece posted a great article on the trench work and has all the interesting photos. Continue reading “Paleoseismological trench at the Finale Emilia earthquake site”

What’s up? The Friday links (34)

One of the best blog articles I recently read deals with the problems scientists face when they are interested in public outreach. Scicurious perfectly summarizes our situation.

The transit of Venus was a spectacular event, unfortunately not visible from Aachen. A really great photo collection is here at The Big Picture ( A cold comfort for those who missed it (like me). They always have the best pictures there, by the way. Continue reading “What’s up? The Friday links (34)”

Finale Emilia earthquake: preliminary report on Earthquake Environmental Effects (EEEs)

The University Insubria (Como, Italy) has published the first report on the earthquake environmental effects that accompanied the Northern Italy “Finale Emilia Earthquake” of 20 May, 2012. On that day, a quake with magnitude Mw6.1 rocked the Po Plain, leaving seven people dead and hundreds of houses damaged. On 29 May, a very strong M5.8 aftershock occurred in the region. Continue reading “Finale Emilia earthquake: preliminary report on Earthquake Environmental Effects (EEEs)”

New data from the Northern Italy Mw6.1 earthquake (20 May 2012)

The INGV has published some new data on the earthquake that hit Italy in the morning of 20 May, 2012 and caused damages and casualties. Peak ground accelerations (PGA) reached 28%g in the epicentral area. This is not unusual for an event of that size. Peak ground velocities (PGV) were as high as 20 cm/s. The spectral response is more interesting. The 3s period response is 1.5%g only, at 1s period the area encountered 18%g, and for the 0.3s period the values reached 49%g, which is quite a lot for a Mw6.1 quake. However, the longer periods tend to be more dangerous for buildings. Continue reading “New data from the Northern Italy Mw6.1 earthquake (20 May 2012)”