Scientists in the dock over L'Aquila earthquake Manslaughter charges for failing to predict natural event
Posted 17 September 2011 - 12:02
This post has been edited by Ian Williams: 17 September 2011 - 12:03
Posted 17 September 2011 - 12:46
Posted 17 September 2011 - 13:01
Posted 17 September 2011 - 13:20
Posted 17 September 2011 - 15:15
Obviously, the main idea we should take from this incident is though seismic activity does not a potential earthquake make, you can go too far towards placating a populations fears which have been stoked by conjecture. Increased Radon did not necessarily mean that an earthquake was iminent. However, it could have indicated that there may have been magma involved and hence the potential of a large earthquake. Any large change in monitored precurors should stand out as a warning to be managed. The problem is we do not yet have sufficient data to point to the weight that precusors should have in the prediction of an event.
Mount St. Helen's side bulge should have been a clear warning of a potential lateral explosion, where the exclusion area should be asymetric. That this was missed was likely due to a lack of prior experience. Though the record demonstrated it was a possibility, it was only found after 1/3 of the surface area had been removed by the blast and this charactere became evident. In short, if the current pattern looks familiar the expectation is that future phenomena should be similar. Hence, if we have a strato volcano it would seem that future activity should be exiting the top, not the side.
So do we place scientists in jeporady because they do not have evidence to the contrary of an unsubstantiated claim? Facts are only valid for what has happened. If we have no measure of something how can it be refuted. This seems more a case of indeminity for financial responsibility.
All scientists can do is say that if we have seen this pattern in the past, that if circumstances appear similar the potential for repeation is likely. A swarm of earthquakes does not a great quake make. Higher radon gas does not a great quake make, it would appear now in retrospect that a swarm of earthquakes and a increase in radon gas detection may prelude a great quake for this region. Whether it applies to others will have to be examined.
As soon as the government grants funding they can get right on it...
Posted 07 October 2011 - 17:01
From David Alexander* (Rec’d & Pub’d 15 August 2011)