INGV head ponders keeping seismic data secret 15 September 2010Posted by admin in Italy, natural hazards.
Dr Enzo Boschi, director of the Italian Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, when not thinking aloud about Marsili seamount erupting and unleashing a tsunami on Southern Italy (‘it could happen tomorrow’), is concerned that the easy availability of scientific data in the non-specialist public arena is causing unnecessary fear and alarm. Perhaps, for example, the seismic data collected by the INGV should not be published? The media, says Boschi, distort the data and act as scaremongers, spreading panic and feeding the ‘prophets of doom’.
Apparently Boschi may just have been joking about halting the publication of data. But he will certainly have had his reasons for floating the idea.
UPDATE. Interesting sidelights on the Chinese approach to earthquake science in this article in New Humanist magazine: ‘An official from China’s national earthquake administration spoke positively on the programme about parrots that can predict tremblors and the paranormal abilities of a man who claimed he heard ringing in his ears before the April earthquake in Yushu, northwest China’. Following the Tangshan earthquake of 1976, which killed around 240,000 people, ‘Officials were singled out for having ignored purported natural indicators of disaster: these apparently included the migration of yellow weasels and unusually large catches of fish’. Italian seismologists have their problems, but things could be worse.
Italians consider hiding seismic data to reduce public ‘melodrama’ – ScienceInsider, 14 September 2010