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Scientists alarmed by verdict of Italian court

The seismological community is deeply concerned about the L'Aquila verdict by an Italian court on 22 October 2012. The manslaughter conviction of six earthquake experts in Italy for failing to give adequate warning of the 2009 earthquake in the city of L'Aquila that killed over 300 people, has occupied the thoughts of large parts of our community.

The consequences of this verdict for science in general, and for the exchange of information between scientists and policy-makers in particular, could be drastic. If scientists stop actively engaging with the public to demonstrate the importance of their work, if they refuse to work in hazard-evaluation panels, or if they are afraid of offering scientific advice to the best of their ability, the prime foundations of science – sharing and openly discussing research and increasing knowledge – are no longer met.

There are many subtleties to the L'Aquila case, so that the case itself cannot be judged by most of us. Thus, to rather provide a constructive input on the discussion, the current status of earthquake prediction is summarised by scientists of the Seismology Division of EGU.

Hannover, 23 October 2012, Charlotte Krawczyk

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