Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Mea Culpa By Simon Winchester About His Newsweek Earthquake Article?

Earlier this year the science writer Simon Winchester started a controversy by claiming a little too assertively that large earthquakes like the Tohoku earthquake on the Pacific plate boundary of the coast of Japan has increased the chances of a large earthquake in California which is located on the other end of the Pacific plate. His claim was that - "[A] significant event on one side of a major tectonic plate is often - not invariably, but often enough to be noticeable- followed some weeks or months later by another on the plate’s far side".

He was roundly criticized for this claim by earthquake experts.

Now Real Climate reports from the AGU meeting in San Francisco:

The second general talk was by author Simon Winchester who excellently demonstrated how to communicate about geology by using human stories. He gave a number of vignettes from his latest book about the Atlantic ocean – including stories of the shipwreck of the Dunedin Star on the ‘Skeleton coast’ of Southern Africa, time on St Helena, and the fate of his book on the Pacific that apparently only sold 12 copies… He finished with a mea culpa and gracious apology to the assorted geophysicists for his rather hurried comments on the Tohoku earthquake disaster that caused some consternation earlier this year. In his defense, he only had 90 minutes to write what he was unaware would be the Newsweek cover story that week.

Any of you Geo-Bloggers attending AGU heard anything about this?

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