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No. 11: Summer 1980

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Hark, hark, the dogs do bark

American geophysicists have been slow to take unusual animal behavior prior to earthquakes seriously. Spurred by Chi-nese work, a network of observers has been set up in California in an earthquake-prone area. Most reports of strange animal behavior have been after-the-fact. Furthermore, the "strange behaviors" frequently turn out to be common during quake-free periods, but simply not remarked upon. Nevertheless, geophysicists did observe some clear-cut instances of animals super-sensitivity to quake phenomena.

Studying aftershocks in the Mohave Desert in 1979, Donald Stierman and his colleagues often heard earthquake booms 4-l0 sec after feeling the shock and seeing their portable seismometers record the tremor. Two dogs nearby inevitably responded with a chorus of barking. Sometimes though, the human observers heard and felt nothing when the seismometers and dogs announced another aftershock.

(Kerr, Richard A.; "Quake Prediction by Animals Gaining Respect," Science, 208: 695, 1980.)

From Science Frontiers #11, Summer 1980. 1980-2000 William R. Corliss