|Toads Anticipate Earthquake|
Sensing an impending earthquake, common toads (Bufo bufo) have been seen evacuating their homes hours days before the event, even in the height of their breeding season.
In a paper published in the Zoological Society of London's (ZSL) Journal of Zoology, scientists from The Open University reported that 96 percent of male toads under observation abandoned their breeding site five days before the devastating earthquake that struck L'Aquila in Italy in 2009 and killed 309 people. The breeding site was located 74 km from the earthquake's epicenter.
The release of radon gas, or gravity waves prior to an earthquake have both been attributed to changes in atmospheric electric fields and currents. In this case the cause of the ionosphere disruptions was not determined.
The researchers analyzed and accounted for other environmental changes known to affect toad behaviour, including lunar phases and changing weather conditions.
Members of Italy's Commission on Major Risks should have heeded the toads, as they were subsequently found criminally negligent for falsely reassuring L'Aquila's population just before the quake instead of ordering evacuations and were sentenced to six years in prison.
sources: Zoological Society of London
The Earthquake Observers
Disaster Science from Lisbon to Richter
In 1977, the question of earthquake prediction was taken up by the Center for Applied Tuition, a San Franciso-based organization founded by an MIT-trained electrical engineer, William Kautz.
Kautz proposed four experiments to the USGS... One was a statistical study of animal behavior preceding earthquakes, Project Earthquake Watch. The experiment consisted of "an active network of 1500 volunteer observers of pets, farm animals, zoo animals and others - eventually a total of 200 species - in selected seismic areas throughout California." Kautz reported "positive results" for seven of the thirteen moderate earthquakes registered in thye four-year period of the study.