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Man's Best Early Warning System?
Animal behavior before earthquakes has been recorded for centuries. I think animals are our only hope for some forewarning. Since Oregon does't get all the earthquakes California gets we should take our animals behavior seriously. I am designing a web site where animal earthquake behavior can be posted quickly with email and text message notification when there are postings.
It'll be called petearthquake.com, and she hopes to have it up within a month or two. I asked the geologist Scott Burns about this after the show, and he corroborated it: there have been many reports of odd animal behavior preceding earthquakes over the years. He added that Asian countries like China and Japan are well ahead of us in terms of paying attention to cowering dogs and freaked out cats.
There are some skeptics. Twenty years ago, a California geologist studied the rate of pet disappearances, which people thought might correlate with impending earthquakes. He didn't find correlation:
This study shows that a significant positive correlation does not exist between the behavior of pets in the San Jose area and the occurrence of earthquakes within the same area over the three year period from January 1983 through December 1985. Based on this random disappearance of pets with respect to earthquakes, no scheme seems possible to predict earthquakes using newspaper reports of missing pets.
But a veterinarian wrote about a pretty in-depth study into pets and earthquakes in 2000, and found that indeed some dogs and cats have been known to pace and whine before an earthquake — and are more likely to do so the closer they were to the epicenter. The problem is that it doesn't always happen:
Their conclusion was that animal earthquake detection works sometimes but not often. Some earthquakes are preceded by cues that some animals can detect, but since this phenomenon is not consistent, it’s not reliable enough to be useful in predicting earthquakes.
But just in case, maybe we should still put "Watch Fido and Fluffy more carefully" on our daily to-do lists?
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