Safety valves

The fullest account of the impending prosecution over the L’Aquila quake that I’ve seen so far is on the Nature web site.

Most of the web traffic that I’ve seen has been strongly supportive of the seismologists in the case, though one issue that has been raised is whether it was said by anyone that “there [...]

The L’Aquila affair

Many posts and emails have been exchanged regarding the recent decision in Italy to press charges of gross negligent manslaughter against several seismologists for failing to provide adequate warning of the destructive earthquake that hit the city of L’Aquila on 6 April last year, with the loss of over 300 lives. Two examples of the [...]


A filing cabinet drawer full of old papers was delivered to me on Friday for sorting. It turned out to be mostly stuff from the early 1970s.  When it comes to deciding whether to keep things or throw them away, my archivist’s instinct is, when in doubt, keep. However, one can’t keep everything, and when [...]


There is, of course, another problem with “ground motion prediction equations”, which is that it’s such a mouthful. Which leads some people to condense it into the horrible “gumpy”. I was at a meeting last week where one presenter kept talking about “selecting the gumpies” and “arranging the gumpies”, much to the bafflement of about [...]


Whatever happened to attenuation? From the 1970s onwards, the word was used to refer to that part of the seismic hazard analysis that described the relationship between ground motion at site and an earthquake at distance. It was certainly current in the mid 2000s, to judge from the “Next Generation Attenuation” or NGA project. But [...]