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SSA Releases Statement on Conviction of Italian Seismologists

25 Oct 2012

The Seismological Society of America has released the following statement on the conviction and sentencing of six Italian scientists and one government official for manslaughter in connection with the tragic L’Aquila earthquake of 6 April 2009:

The seismological community is alarmed by the conviction and sentencing of six Italian scientists and one government official for manslaughter in connection with the tragic L’Aquila earthquake of 6 April 2009. We are concerned that this verdict may only serve to reduce life-saving communication about earthquake hazards in the future in Italy and in many other countries around the world.

The occurrence of this disastrous earthquake illuminates both the high level of uncertainty in the science of short-term earthquake forecasting and the lack of a public policy framework in Italy and many other parts of the world for providing short-term guidance for coping with that uncertainty to the communities, populations, and infrastructure at risk.

Rather than pursuing unprecedented legal action against members of the seismological community, SSA urges public officials and community leaders to work to improve the way earthquake risks are communicated to the public. We also urge continued proactive efforts to support earthquake science and engineering and to establish and implement local and national programs in earthquake preparedness and risk mitigation. The best approaches currently available for mitigating the effects of future earthquakes are education, awareness, and preparedness of public officials and the general public, coupled with sound construction practices and retrofitting of older structures.

As background, SSA has posted the audio of a presentation by Thomas H. Jordan given at the Public Policy Luncheon at the SSA 2012 Annual Meeting on Lessons of L'Aquila for Operational Earthquake Forecasting.

Dr. Jordan chaired the International Commission on Earthquake Forecasting for Civil Protection. He is Director of the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC), W.M. Keck Foundation Professor of Earth Sciences at USC, and currently serves on SSA’s Board of Directors.

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