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Earth & Environmental Sciences
EESC 1158
Donald James

Kafka’s Current Opinion on Earthquake Prediction: Given current state of knowledge in seismology, most (probably all??) specific predictions that are publicly announced are misleading and are often scientifically irresponsible Earthquake Forecasting – is possible, and can be scientifically responsible Earthquake Prediction vs. Earthquake Forecasting Earthquake Prediction: a short-term (hours to days) statement that an earthquake will occur at a given location Earthquake Forecast: a long-term (years to decades) statement of the probability of an earthquake in a region (or the probability of one or more earthquakes in a region) Earthquake Prediction: Some cases, earthquakes were predicted by seismologists, other cases were predicted by “outsiders” – non-scientists or scientists from other fields Responses of seismologists, government officials, the mass media and citizens Examples of earthquake prediction case studies North Carolina (psychic & geologists) Missouri (climatologist, business consultant) Haicheng, China (“officla” group of seismologists) Parkfield, CA (“official” group of seismologists) L’Aquila, Italy (Seismology goes to court…) Earthquakes in Eastern US (various seismologists) Personal bias on earthquake prediction as of 2013… Turns out to be a failed prediction Can’t figure out if it was a success or a failure Or is it applicable only to a very specific place and time (Even next quake in same area may be quite different) Personal bias on public policy aspects of earthquake prediction: Most that are publicly announced are misleading and are often scientifically irresponsible However, earthquake forecasting is quite realistic and can be scientifically responsible Case #1: North Carolina, 1976 - Pyschic Clarissa Bernhart predicted a major earthquake (magnitude 8) would occur in NC (near Wilmington and Southport, between January 13 and January 20, 1976) - Was in an article in the National Enquirer - David Stewart (Professor of Geology) at UNC, endorsed the psychic’s prediction and said it was consistent with his own research Because he was a scientist and professor, his endorsement gave her prediction scientific credibility (in mind’s of media and citizens) Made front page news and affected lives of people living in the area 40% of businesses in the area reported a decline in business 40% of people took some sort of action to protect their homes 17% stockpiled emergency supplies Earthquake did not occur Magnitude 5.8 Earthquake in Vir
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