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6 Italian seismologists face prison for wrong predictions

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posted on Sep, 27 2012 @ 02:53 PM

Six Italian scientists and one government official could see four-year prison terms for manslaughter for allegedly downplaying the risk of an earthquake in the town of L'Aquila, Italy, in 2009.

According to prosecutors, the six researchers and the Department of Civil Protection downplayed the likelihood that a series of tremors that hit the city in early 2009 were foreshadowing a larger quake. On April 6, 2009, a magnitude-6.3 earthquake killed 309 city residents.

The trial, which began about a year ago, has worried scientists, who point out that earthquake prediction is not possible. But prosecutors insist that the trial is not about predicting the unpredictable, according to Nature News. During closing arguments on Monday and Tuesday, the prosecution assistant told the courtroom that instead, the scientists and officials had inadequately assessed the risk of a quake and given deceptive information to the public. The prosecution is asking for four-year prison terms for the accused.

So what accountability should those who attempt to predict nature disasters have if they are wrong in their predictions? It seems to me that this is a slippery slope in the science of earthquake prediction. Predicting whether or not a series of tremors are precursers to a larger event is a nearly impossible task, and depending on the outcome of this case, this may cause extra pressure on scientist attempting to make any predictions.

In 1988, researchers found that about half of large quakes in seismically active areas of Italy were preceded by foreshocks, but only 2 percent of small earthquake clusters predicted a big temblor.

When looking at the above numbers, it's easy to see that predicting whether or not the earthquake that occured in this case would happen was a difficult challenge.

What types of precidents will this set for the future for scientist who attempt predictions?

edit on 27-9-2012 by isyeye because: (no reason given)

posted on Sep, 27 2012 @ 03:02 PM
I predict a shortage of earthquake scientists in Italy. Seems a bit silly. It is horrible that people died, no question, however I am not seeing negligence or a deliberate withholding of known information.

posted on Sep, 27 2012 @ 03:11 PM
reply to post by isyeye

What next?

Arresting the weatherman for not predicting the tornadoe that killed some people? I need off this planet. Any friendly ETs out there?

posted on Sep, 27 2012 @ 03:13 PM
The scientists should have put the cards on the table when asked. If there was a fifty fifty chance than that should have been stated. Looks like someone said that there was not much risk when he knew the odds. I see that in this country a lot. If there is a strong chance of something happening it should get an elevated earthquake risk like a volcano does.

posted on Sep, 28 2012 @ 11:43 AM
There have been rare instances where some air traffic controller makes a tragic error that results in an airplane collision, which kills a lot of people. In some countries they have actually contemplated criminal charges against the air traffic controller for his error. But how can you criminalize human error? Would anybody choose these professions if they can go to jail for a simple mistake?

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