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Earthquake detection: Can animals really predict earthquakes better than machines?

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RG Pierce, Tech Times Sep 24, 2021, 05:09 a.m.

Earthquake detection, despite technological advances over the years, is still not as accurate as scientists would like it to be. Even the world’s best seismologists would say detecting tremors, let alone predicting them, is a hit or miss. But maybe they should have looked at the animals more often.

(Photo: Getty Images)

This topic was at the forefront of the scientific community again during the earthquake that struck Melbourne, Australia, last September 22. In the News.com.au story, several people reported cases of their pets (usually dogs and cats) behaving strangely soon after. before the earthquake.

One person wrote that her dog, Harvey, allegedly howled in the hallway for a full five minutes before the earthquake. Another mentioned that there is a noticeable absence of “sparrows” (also known as birds that don’t chirp as they are supposed to) before a shiver is felt.

The earthquake that struck near Melbourne recently was rated as a magnitude 5.9. According to CNN, the earthquake was not strong enough to cause widespread destruction, but it appears to have been strong enough to put the entire city in a standstill.

However, its strength was enough to be felt as far away as Adelaide, which is a full 500 miles away, and Sydney, which is about 600 miles from the epicenter.

Australia has hardly recorded any strong earthquakes in history, with the most powerful 6.6-magnitude earthquake hitting the Northern Territory in 1988.

This is because the entire land mass is located in the middle of a tectonic plate, unlike neighboring New Zealand, which lies directly along the amazing Pacific Ring.

ALSO READ: Seismologist says science used in ‘San Andreas’ movie may not be entirely accurate

Animals ‘predict’ earthquakes: How well can they do it?

According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), the first mention of unusual behavior in animals was recorded shortly before an earthquake in ancient Greece more than 2,300 years ago. Back then, rats, snakes, weasels, and even centipedes were darting suspiciously to safety just days before a very devastating earthquake.

It is still not widely known how animals can “sense” an earthquake, but this is perhaps the most likely answer. According to ScienceDaily, animals may actually be able to sense earthquakes because large rock pressures in earthquake zones ionize the surrounding air.

(Photo: Getty Images)

Animals (mammals in particular) likely use their sensitive fur to detect ionization in the air. Scientists also think that your pets’ noses can be sensitive enough to smell the gases released by the quartz crystals shortly before an earthquake.

Why can’t machines predict earthquakes then?

As mentioned earlier, even the most advanced seismology techniques in the world cannot predict earthquakes. That’s because more accurate predictions have to rely on a “precursor,” or some kind of signal in the ground that signals an upcoming earthquake.

But this is no ordinary signal, because it should only occur before the big tremors, as well as before all the big tremors, NewScientist wrote.

No machine was reliable enough to identify these precursors, but perhaps another machine – artificial intelligence. It is reported that a specific algorithm being developed by a team of French researchers is accurate enough to predict any changes in the Earth’s crust two to three months before the earthquake.

(Photo: Getty Images)

Perhaps with this kind of technology, seismology will advance tenfold and be on par with the apparent accuracy of animal earthquake predictions.

RELATED: Recent Ridgecrest Quake Triples Chances of ‘Big One’ Coming Soon: Study

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Written by RJ Pierce

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