Can an Animal Behaviour Help Predict Earthquakes???

Many people have claimed to witness changes in animal behaviour before the commencement of an earthquake. Do you think these claims can be true? Can animals really sense this earth tremor? If you watch NatGeo Wild like I do ,you would definitely agree with me that God has given animals instinct for survival. Let’s find out if animal behaviour can actually help to predict earthquakes.

According to the geonet project in new zealand , about 20,000 earthquakes were located a year,humans are still unable to predict when and where the next earthquake will occur. Although, many seismologists across the world work very hard to sense or predict earthquakes using previous earthquake’s data, advanced techniques and equipment in the lab and then observe and analyze with their equipment (seismometer) whatever is going on deep within the earth.

From historic to modern age, there have been a lot of claims about animals behaving differently right before an earthquake occurs. Even some of the algorithms and development around global optimization that has impacted the world today positively were inspired by some animal behaviours e.g ant colony for optimization,genetic algorithm, particle swarm optimization e.t.c. In 1975, at Haicheng China, the officials were able to minimize the damage or loss of lifes by allowing people to evacuate the city due to the strange animal behaviour. Read more about the story.

Infact a website has been set up to share and capture information about the issue as different people claim to notice behavioural change in animals within 24hours to 60 days before the earthquake.

Do you know that Earthquakes release positive ions in the environment that animals can sense ?, as these cause them discomfort. Do you also know that animals can sense minor tremors that humans cannot , they can also sense gases released due to earth movements that precede a major earthquake? So, most of the foreshocks, i.e. minor shocks that happen before a big earthquake hits, can be sensed by these animals. The different kinds of behaviour the animals may exhibit include becoming nervous and restless, dogs bark and whine without reason, bees exiting their hives in panic, and even a tiger gets depressed in the lead-up to an earthquake.

Some of the experts,including Heiko Woith and colleagues of the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, thought it was an interesting fact that most claims or reports for strange animal behaviours before an earthquake came from 100 km radius of earthquakes.Although after studying many of these reports and claims, they suggested that there was little scientific and statistical proof to support the claim, and that the observation data was poor and informal.

Truth be told, “can animals really predict an earthquake ?” is still an unsettled debate today, but many people are still watching and investigating this space and most of the scientists pursuing this mystery are in China and Japan. Nevertheless, if you have a pet or animals in your surroundings, keep calm and keep a keen eye out.

Written By
Oluwapelumi Abimbola
software engineer

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