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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Italy earthquake

The following news items is from Google LatLong Blog yesterday:
Early Monday morning, the Italian region of Abruzzo was hit by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake. The epicenter of the quake was in L'Aquila, a town about 100km northeast of Rome. According to the latest news reports, authorities fear that more than 200 people may have lost their lives.
along with this picture:
and this comment we share:
Our hearts go out to the victims, their families, and the population that has been affected by this tragedy.
Amid the tragic event, this Yahoo News reported that a scientist, Gioacchino Giuliani, who works at the National Institute of Physics, had warned last month that "a devastating earthquake in the central Abruzzo region was imminent." But Italian officials shrugged off his warnings. Geophysicists in general have been skeptical about earthquake early warning system. This one is no exception:

Although scientists say it's easy to say where big quakes are likely to happen, pinning down the timing can't be done, at least not yet.

"It's a very humbling field to be in ... We cannot predict earthquakes," said Ross Stein, a geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California.

"To predict an earthquake, whatever it is that we're using would have to be a reliable indicator ... And no one has gotten close to that."

While Giuliani, who based his forecast on emission of radon gas, made the forecast,

Giuliani's forecast was far from perfect. He believed the quake would have struck the town of Sulmona, which is more than 50 km (30 miles) south of L'Aquila. He also got the date wrong, predicting the quake would strike several days earlier.

The head of Italy's Civil Protection Agency, Guido Bertolaso, told reporters that if they had listened to Giuliani, they probably would have evacuated the residents of Sulmona to L'Aquila just in time for the earthquake.

So for many years now we have been told that it is not possible to pinpoint predict earthquakes anywhere yet is still the case. Radon gas is one of many approaches scientists explored, it gotten close, but we are not quite there yet!

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