Saturday, October 27, 2012

Earthquake Convictions in Italy

  Six scientists and a former government official were found guilty in an Italian regional court on October 22 for making "inaccurate, incomplete and contradictory" statements prior the the magnitude 6.3 earthquake in Aquila on April 6, 2009. I downloaded the data for the earthquakes with magnitudes greater than 2.0 from the beginning of 2002 to just prior to the M6.3 earthquake and within 1 degree in latitude and longitude of l'Aquila. The distribution of the earthquakes in latitude and longitude can be seen in the map below.
  An analysis of the data produced the following plots as a function of 30 day months prior the the earthquake. The frequency of earthquakes decreased while the total energy released per month remained fairly constant. The average energy per earthquake showed some spikes just before the major earthquake but these spikes occur when there are relatively few earthquakes. One would have to look at the sequence of earthquakes over a much longer period of time to decide if this record was atypical. But the pattern of the energy released does appear to become more periodic towards the end of the plot.

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