U44B. Communicating Geohazard Risk Assessments: Lessons Learned From the Verdicts in the L'Aquila Earthquake Case

6 Dec 2012 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Video On-Demand

Ticketing Type:
Open to All

Section/Focus Group:
Union (U)


map of the L'Aquila Earthquake from USGS
Moscone North - Hall E

Conveners: John Bates, NCDC/NESDIS/NOAA, and Stephen Sparks, University of Bristol

4:00 PM – 4:05 PM

Welcome and Introduction

Michael McPhaden, AGU President

4:05 PM – 4:25 PM

Lessons of L’Aquila for Operational Earthquake Forecasting

Thomas H. Jordan, Southern California Earthquake Center, University of Southern California

4:25 PM – 4:45 PM

Who is Responsible for Human Suffering due to Earthquakes?

Max Wyss, World Agency for Planetary Monitoring and Earthquake Risk Reduction

4:45 PM – 5:05 PM

Scientific Advice, Risk Assessment and Communication During Volcanic Emergencies

Stephen Sparks, University of Bristol

5:05 PM – 6:00 PM

Panel Discussion

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  1. Dr. Shrikant LIMAYE says:

    A few questions still remain unanswered:

    1. Are Geoscientists (Seismologists) responsible for communication to the society? There has to be a clear line of communication to the society through a Government Agency dealing solely with hazard management. In future, Geoscientists would report their findings only to this Agency. How to communicate to the society without causing a ‘panic’ or a ‘ false sense of safety’ is up to the Agency.

    2. If Geoscientists are sent to jail for 6 years for their ‘technical judgment’ which unfortunately proved to be wrong, why not the architects, engineers and builders who did not build ‘earthquake-proof’ houses in an active seismic zone, be given a similar or even more severe punishment?

  2. Jose Pujol says:

    I think that the most important comment during the discussion was made by the lawyer that commented on the inaccurate statement made by the public official(s) regarding the release of energy by the microearthquakes. This statement reassured the population and led some people to abandon the precautions that may have saved their lives. The lawyer noted that the seismologists that were aware of the inaccuracy of the statement should have pointed out that clearly. By not doing that they made a very serious mistake. Prof. Jordan follow-up comment actually skipped this essential aspect of the problem. I would have appreciated a more thorough discussion of the responsibilities of seismologists in that situation. I don’t think that the noise created by the prediction referred to by Jordan is an excuse for inaction.