Wikipedia: Prior warning controversy
Italian laboratory technician Gioacchino Giuliani was said to have predicted the earthquake in advance, by measurement of radon emitted from the ground. He was dismissed as a scaremonger, and forced to remove his findings from the Internet. He was also reported to police a week ago for “causing panic” among the local population when he predicted an earthquake was imminent in Sulmona, about 50 km (31 mi) from L’Aquila, on 30 March and nothing happened (and in fact the area of Sulmona only suffered very minor damages by the 6 April earthquake). Enzo Boschi, the head of the Italian National Geophysics Institute said “Every time there is an earthquake there are people who claim to have predicted it,” he said. “As far as I know nobody predicted this earthquake with precision. It is not possible to predict earthquakes.”
Scientist: My quake prediction was ignored
L’AQUILA, Italy (CNN) — A researcher says he predicted Monday’s devastating earthquake that killed dozens of people and left tens of thousands homeless in central Italy, but authorities dismissed him as a scaremonger.
Giacchino Giuliani says he wants an apology from officials who he says ignored his warnings.
Gioacchino Giuliani, an employee at a physics institute at Gran Sasso, near the badly-hit city of L’Aquila, has demanded an official apology for what he says was an unforgivable failure to act on his predictions.
“There are people who must apologize to me, and they must have the weight of what occurred on their conscience,” Giuliani said after the quake hit, according to local news site Ilcapoluogo.com.
Last month, vans with loudspeakers drove around the area broadcasting Giuliani’s warning after he claimed his method of predicting seismic events by radon gas emissions had forecast an imminent quake.
The scientist was reported to police for spreading false alarms and was made to remove his findings from the Internet. “They called me an imbecile,” he said.
According IlCapoluogo, Giuliani gave an interview as recently as March 24 in which he repeated his claims.
Local authorities have insisted Monday’s 6.3-magnitude event was part of a sequence of tremors in a quake-prone area and neither the size nor the timing was possible to predict.
Giuliani said he was monitoring radon concentrations ahead of Monday’s quake, but knew the authorities would press charges against him if he repeated his warning.
“last night I did not know who to talk to. I could see the situation was deteriorating and there was nothing I could do,” he said, according to IlCapoluogo.
Quake: Predictions impossible
Monitoring radon gas emissions not reliable, experts say
(ANSA) - L’Aquila, April 6 - There was no way to predict the earthquake which rocked the central region of Abruzzo in the early hours of Monday morning, Civil Protection chief Guido Bertolaso told a news conference here in the region’s capital.
At least 92 people were killed, some 1,500 injured and thousands left homeless by the earthquake which measured 6.2 on today’s generally used MMS scale, compared to 5.8 on the Richter scale, which scientists only use now for smaller quakes.
There have been tremors here since last January and experts were here last week to examine the phenomenon but Bertolaso said they had ‘’no technical or scientific elements which could have led them to forecast this sort of quake'’.
His position was confirmed by Enzo Boschi, the chairman of Italy’s National Institute for Geophysics and Vulcanology (INGV) who said it was impossible to predict when such tremors will occur ‘’because the parameter variables change constantly'’.
Ignazio Guerra of the University of Calabria agreed and downplayed claims that they can be forecast based on radon gas emissions.
‘’To say that there will be an earthquake somewhere means nothing. Predicting means indicating time, place and magnitude. At present it is impossible to do this,'’ Guerra said.
‘’There have been earthquakes without the emission of radon gas just as there have been emissions of radon gas without earthquakes. Thus this method is far from perfect,'’ Guerra explained.
Using radon gas emissions as a means to predict earthquakes has been championed by an expert at the National Astrophysics Institute, Gioacchino Giampaolo Giuliani, who has attracted considerable press attention.
The INGV has been studying this method for some 20 years, but according to institute scientist Federica Quattrocchi ‘’it still has not been perfected enough to become an effective means of prediction'’.
‘’I don’t question his (Giuliani’s) research, only his methods. People like him operate on the fringes of the scientific community and with their claims complicate our own work'’.
Guerra was even harsher and said that predictions by people like Giuliani ‘’can be even more damaging that a real earthquake'’ because of the panic this can create and the effect it can have on the economy and property values in the area.
The seismic activity which has occured in the province of L’Aquila since January led a group of local ‘criers’ last month to tell city residents to abandon their homes because an earthquake was about to strike.
Police are investigating the group and it is unclear whether they based their action on Guiliani’s claims.