Tuesday, September 20, 2011

'Bizarre' earthquake trial has scientists worried - 20th Sept 2011

Seismologists around the world watch trial of officials who have been charged with manslaughter for not warning the public aggressively enough of an earthquake that killed more than 300 people.

Six Italian scientists and one government official are set to go to trial today in Italy on charges of manslaughter for not warning the public aggressively enough of an impending earthquake that killed more than 300 people in 2009.

While such a trial is unlikely on U.S. soil, experts say, American geologists and seismologists are watching closely, surprised at a legal system that would attempt to criminalize something as uncertain as earthquake prediction.
"Our ability to predict earthquake hazards is, frankly, lousy," said Seth Stein, a professor of Earth sciences at Northwestern University in Illinois. "Criminalizing something would only make sense if we really knew how to do this and someone did it wrong."
Henry Pollack, a professor of geology at the University of Michigan, echoed Stein's concerns.
"The whole thing seems bizarre to me," Pollack told LiveScience. Read More