Earthquake prediction has no scientific basis: seismologist

By Indo Asian News Service | Thursday, September 07, 2006 | 5:23:52 PM IST (+05:30 GMT) Comment 0 Comment

New Delhi, Sep 7 (IANS) A top seismologist at the India Meteorological Department here has debunked the prediction of a geologist of an earthquake of 7-8 magnitude on the Richter scale hitting Assam at 8:21 a.m. Friday.

New Delhi, Sep 7 (IANS) A top seismologist at the India Meteorological Department here has debunked the prediction of a geologist of an earthquake of 7-8 magnitude on the Richter scale hitting Assam at 8:21 a.m. Friday.

'We do not believe in this prediction. So far, there are no scientific means to predict with reasonable degree of accuracy and certainty the time, location and magnitude of an earthquake,' R.S. Duttareyam, director of seismology at the India Meteorological Department (IMD) Thursday told IANS.

On Wednesday, S. Venkatanathan of the applied geology department of the University of Madras had predicted there are 70 percent chances of an earthquake occurring in Assam.

Duttareyam maintained that prediction of an earthquake has to be based on 'scientific facts'.

'Scientific data has to be authenticated by a team of experts before any forecast can be made. In this case, when it is a matter of public concern, the scientists have to be more prudent and should use only a scientific basis before making such statements,' he said.

Questioning the accuracy and reliability of Venkatanathan's predictions, Duttareyam said earthquakes have been forecast in the northeast region in the past but hardly any has occurred.

IMD centres across the country have been monitoring seismic data but have not issued any alert so far.

Reacting to reports of Assam government issuing a high alert in the state based on his prediction, Venkatanathan pointed out he has left a 30 percent error margin, which people have chosen to ignore.

'While I have given 70 percent probability for the occurrence of the earthquake, there is still 30 percent chance of its non-occurrence,' he told IANS.

Venkatanathan said his predictions are based on theoretical calculations involving astrophysics and geophysics and also an analysis of past events.

He, however, admitted going by past records, the success rate of his predictions has been 75 percent.

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