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1915 Rome Earthquake Prediction : Not a bad guess

Raffaele Bendandi has been in the news because of his prediction of an Earthquake in Rome on May 11, 2011. Why? Because he is said to have predicted the 1915 Avezzano earthquake. He gained fame when he predicted that an earthquake would strike on January 2, 1923. His prediction was off by two days – the earthquake occurred on January 4, 1923 in Le Marche.

So almost 100 years after his prediction, how did he do? Not too bad. Today in Southern Spain a major earthquake hit with significant damage. This was the deadliest earthquake in Spain since 1956. For a 100 year prediction of devastation in the area, without sufficient knowledge of tectonics, this was a pretty damn good guess. The map below shows the proximity of the earthquake in Spain to the earthquake in Rome.

The proximity is eerily close to Rome. Earthquakes in Spain with this type of damage and loss of life are rare enough to make all the conspiracy theorists go “ohhhhhhhh”. While I do not buy into the belief that this scientist’s predictions were accurate, what I do buy into is the fact that astrological alignment and events can and do effect the earth’s crust and oceans.

News articles show that Romans were taking precautions because of this ancient prediction. They refer to the Romans as superstitious. I would say to this that there is less superstition in believing a ancient seismologist who says the planets have something to do with earthquakes, than the superstition of religion, yet we tend to chastise those who follow fringe science more than those who worship myths.

This is something we need to fix in our society. Take a closer look at fringe science. It is usually the birthplace of the greatest theories in our history. At one time the idea of the atom, the idea of the nuclear bomb, and the idea of a round planet were all fringe science.

Itia (abroad)

  1. limey
    May 12, 2011 at 1:30 am

    The thing is, the fringe science examples you give in your last paragraph were all theories that came about from the observation and gathering of evidence. After hypothesis and further observation those theories were proved to be correct.

    Planetary alignment and the effect on the earths crust is known through measurement of gravitational effects and it simply not enough to cause earthquakes. The strongest gravitational pull on the earths crust comes from the moon, which is hardly a surprise given its close approximation. We know this from the tides, unsurprisingly planetary alignment has no meaningful affect on tides.

    From memory the moons pull on the earths crust is measurable at about 1.5 meters, not a very large amount and not enough to cause earthquakes, but the movement is measurable.

    The science behind the cause of earthquakes is well studied and its the movement and slip of the tectonic plates across the earths surface that causes earthquakes. Because these plate slips are not predictable, earthquakes are therefore not predictable.

    A study of the correlation between the moons position and earth quakes has been done and the result was in the region of 1% in favour. This is a small enough amount that it could fall within the error bars. What this means in reality is that the moon’s gravitational pull could theoretically have an effect on an area of high tension that was ready to go already, it certainly could not cause an earthquake where one was not ready to happen already.

    As for planetary alignment, the effect is so small that there is no chance whatsoever that they could cause an earthquake. The idea that they could is not just fringe science its utterly bad pseudoscience.

    • May 13, 2011 at 4:07 am

      I do not consider tides to be a small force. I do not think we know enough about the friction and effect of magma against the plates to make a judgment call as you do in your comments. When you take the forces and measure them against the mass of the plates it seems implausible, I get your point. But I say that to say it is impossible is also irresponsible.

      • limey
        May 13, 2011 at 11:20 am

        The scientists who have made a career of studying the subjects have enough data to know.

        The effects of gravity from the other planets are known well enough that we can calculate how much it will effect a space probe passing by and how much it will effect an asteroid when it gets too close.

        The ability of another planet to cause an earthquake is known to be zero.

        You can wish it to be possible as much as you like, it won’t change the truth, achieved by study, calculation and tested predictions.

        If planetary alignment had any effect on earthquakes, then there would be a form of prediction that would be testable, the fact remains, there is none.

  2. gdgilbert
    May 12, 2011 at 2:13 am

    Scienfitic data, psychic predictions, animals heading for the hills, – I don’t care. I have family and friends scattered around the globe and I want them to be safe. Any more predictions I need to consider?

    • May 13, 2011 at 4:03 am

      You will always hear of new predictions. Take some as rule (NOAA warnings), Some with a grain of salt (Fringe Science warnings with some common sense logic involved), and ignore the rest (Nostrodumbass, the church, insurance agents)

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