Can your dog predict an earthquake? Evidence is shaky, say researchers

Source:  Seismological Society of America / April 17, 2018

For centuries people have claimed that strange behavior by their cats, dogs and even cows can predict an imminent earthquake, but the first rigorous analysis of the phenomenon concludes that there is no strong evidence behind the claim.

The paper published in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America instead suggests that most of this “evidence” consists of single observations and anecdotes that cannot be tested rigorously. Its authors suggest a series of questions that researchers should use in analyzing the evidence that abnormal animal behavior predicts earthquakes.

Heiko Woith and colleagues at the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences say scientists must determine whether the link between the animal behavior and the earthquake is based on clearly defined rules (such as the animal’s distance from earthquakes of a certain magnitude), whether the animal behavior has ever been observed and not followed by an earthquake, whether there is a statistical testing hypothesis in place to examine the evidence, and whether the animal population is a healthy, among other questions.

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