Shock continues in seismology community

Reported by: Alyx Sacks
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Updated: 10/25/2012 11:32 pm
On Monday, seven former members of Italy's Great Risks Commission were convicted of manslaughter charges, giving each a six-year prison sentence.

Prosecutors say they didn’t warn residents of L'Aquila town of the risk for a big quake following weeks of small tremors.

The news is shocking for the seismology community worldwide.

Local experts tell News 4 the best seismologists can do is forecast not predict, but this week six seismologists were convicted of a crime some could even say was impossible to commit.

The aftershock of a lethal earthquake that killed more than 300 people continues.

"That isn't equivalent to putting six seismologists in jail for not being able to predict the unpredictable," Nevada Director of the Seismological laboratory Graham Kent says.

Kent broke down for News 4 the events leading up to the 6.3-magnitude earthquake in Italy 2009.

The area was hit with a swarm.

100's of small earthquakes in a short amount of time, much like the mogul area in Reno in 2008 or the in Spanish Springs just last week.

"That leads to an atmosphere where everybody's on edge, because they're all waiting for the next big one, but it might not ever happen," Kent says.

This type of situation forces seismologists to walk a very thin line.

“We have to sit there and get people on edge enough to prepare for an event that might be a generational event or every ten years or 100 years, but when they come they're very significant," Kent says.

It Italy, it was significant and for the six Italian seismologists it was a wrong guess.

A guess they'll never forget.

Kent says this is a message for seismologists everywhere to always communicate the risk.

"We can't allow this jury to kind of, this crazy verdict to keep us from doing what is right," Kent says.

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kdavis52 - 10/26/2012 11:20 AM
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Excuse me? But isn't the Planet Earth unpredictable?
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