The Gran Sasso National Laboratory (credit: LNGS)
By Michael Banks
Researchers at the Gran Sasso National Laboratory in central Italy are best known for their experiments that are designed to study the properties of neutrinos and search for dark matter.
The underground lab, however, also lies around 20 kilometres away from the town of L’Aquila, which was hit by an earthquake in the early hours of Monday morning. Measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale, the earthquake has so far killed over 200 people. But there are reports saying that Giampaolo Giuliani, a physicist based at Gran Sasso, predicted the earthquake would happen more than a month ago.
Predicting earthquakes is a tricky business as a feature we ran in January points out. But developing a system that could predict when and where they happen, although being a pipe dream at the moment, could save thousands of lives per year.
Reports yesterday say Giuliani predicted the earthquake would happen after nearby sensors picked up excess radon gas escaping from the ground last month.
There is, however, no reliable proof that radon emitted by smaller tremors could be used to predict an earthquake. Guiliani was also apparently told to remove videos and information from the internet warning that an earthquake could hit the region.
Physics World is currently looking into the full details of Guiliani’s story, so stay posted for updates.