Seismic Sense

52 mins2012

Earthquake prediction is perhaps the greatest failure of modern science. Geologists use sophisticated instruments to study seismic activity but they still are nowhere near to being able to make accurate predictions. Some scientists, however, have taken a different approach. Studying snakes, toads and dogs, they have noticed peculiar behavior just days before an earthquake strikes. Could this observation help predict earthquakes in the future?

At the Nanning Earthquake Bureau in China, researchers are convinced that constantly observing 143 snake nests will give them a 48 hour lead before the region is hit again. It would not be the first time that animals have helped to predict an earthquake. Archive footage from 1975 shows how animal behavior led to the evacuation of one million people just before an earthquake of magnitude 7.3 struck the Chinese metropolis Haicheng. But what do animals sense? NASA physicist Friedemann Freund has discovered that the enormous forces of plate tectonics create a large electric current within the earth crust.

For the first time, this film investigates how animal behavior and plate tectonics are really related and how this could lead to a new approach in predicting earthquakes successfully.