Frantic Tweets About 7.0 Earthquake -- Tomorrow

Categories: Science, internets
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A much-retweeted "warning" of a 7.0 earthquake that will ostensibly hit Southern California tomorrow has earned a stern tweet of its own from the United States Geological Survey. You can't predict earthquakes, notes the USGS. And there's no Easter Bunny, either.

Dire warnings of a massive quake are emanating from a Twitter account titled @Quakeprediction. That account is affiliated with the bizarre "Quake Prediction" Web site -- which posits an "EARTHQUAKE WARNING; 6.0 to 7.0 earthquake likely in Southern California; Most likely in the Coachella, Salton Sea area or Chino Hills, Los Angeles area. September 29 - October 1." It lists the possibility of a quake today at 90 percent and tomorrow at 98 percent.

Perhaps the only documentable information to be found on the Quake Prediction site is the disclaimer, "I am not associated with the USGS earthquake prediction site." That's because no such site exists.

The USGS isn't in the "There's an earthquake coming next Tuesday" business. While it lists the probability of a major quake coming along certain faults over the course of many years, government scientists emphasize that no one has ever predicted a major quake.

Luke Thomas, the man behind the "Quake Predictions" website, claims differently. His secret: "The main method we use to make our earthquake forecasts is based on thermal temperature changes caused by kinetic frictional heating of the tectonic plates." Other devices used to divine the movement of the earth: "moon phases," "animal behaviour" (sic), and "human behaviour" (sic).

Unfortunately for Thomas, none of those prediction methods panned out when he claimed a major earthquake was a-comin' to SoCal in mid April. Didn't happen.

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