Toads May Help Us Predict Earthquakes

Days before the devastating earthquake in Italy in 2009, toads in L’Aquila were said to have abandoned the pond where its colony live.

The Telegraph reports that researchers led by Friedemann Freund from NASA and Rachel Grant from UK’s Open University believe that stressed rocks in the Earth’s crust release charged particles days prior to the quake, reacting with groundwater. Animals living in or near groundwater may have noticed this and left their habitat as a result.

The researchers are hoping that their findings may lead to an improvement in predicting earthquakes. Lab tests from Nasa revealed that changes in the Earth’s crust could have directly affected the chemistry of the toads’ habitat, up to the point of becoming toxic.

Grant, a biologist, said:

“It was very dramatic. It went from 96 toads to almost zero over three days. When you think of all of the many things that are happening to these rocks, it would be weird if the animals weren’t affected in some way. Once we understand how all of these signals are connected, if we see four of five signals all pointing in same direction, we can say, ‘OK, something is about to happen’.”

The findings were published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Do you think this is a breakthrough in predicting earthquakes and enabling us to avoid catastrophic damages?