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Earthquakes Cannot be Predicted, Despite Recent Claims

Rend Beiruti Rend Beiruti
4th March 2023
Earthquakes Cannot be Predicted, Despite Recent Claims
It remains impossible to predict earthquakes (Getty)

Earthquakes cannot be predicted, despite recent misinformation on social media. A coincidence between a tweet claiming an earthquake will take place in Turkey and the February 6 earthquake in Turkey and Syria has led some to believe otherwise.  

Frank Hoogerbeets’s Predictions

On February 3, 2023, Frank Hoogerbeets tweeted that an earthquake would hit Turkey, Jordan, Syrian, and Lebanon. Two days later, in the early morning of February 6, 2023, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake devastated the region and killed over 50,000 people according to the latest death tolls. However, the timeliness between the tweet and the catastrophe can only be seen as a coincidence.

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USGS Confirms: Earthquakes Cannot Be Predicted

The United States Geological Survey, a governmental scientific body, has confirmed that it remains impossible to predict earthquakes. The agency’s website states, “Neither the USGS nor any other scientists have ever predicted a major earthquake. We do not know how, and we do not expect to know how any time in the foreseeable future. USGS scientists can only calculate the probability that a significant earthquake will occur.” 

The Probability Factor: Turkey's Susceptibility to Earthquakes

The term “probability” is key. Seismologist Susan Hough from the USGS told NPR that the earthquake in Turkey is not a shock to earthquake scientists, given that Turkey is “a known earthquake zone” due to the convergence of three tectonic plates in this region. Given this, the area is more susceptible to earthquakes. 

Frank Hoogerbeets, who wrote the now-viral tweet, is a “researcher & software developer,” according to his Twitter account. Hence, he is neither a seismologist nor a holder of a science degree. He is the CEO of the Solar System Geometry Survey (SSGEOS), which monitors “geometry between celestial bodies related to seismic activity.” However, SSGEOS does not appear to be a recognised scientific institution.  

Most recently, Hoogerbeets has ‘predicted’ an earthquake will take place in early March. Hoogerbeets has been making claims about earthquakes for years based on planetary alignments. These were debunked by astronomer Phil Plait who argued that planetary alignment cannot cause earthquakes and questioned Hoogerbeets methods for making these claims.  

Prevention is Key

According to the seismologist Susan Hough, the focus should not be on forecasting earthquakes but rather on prevention through quake-resistant building and construction methods. She cites images from the earthquakes that show some buildings have remained standing among the rubble and destruction. This indicates that there are certain methods that can be employed to prevent complete collapse. Already, in Turkey, engineers and contractors linked to the collapsed buildings are being investigated and arrested. There are also accusations that building regulations that emerged after the destructive 1999 earthquake in Turkey have not been sufficiently followed or enforced by the government.   

Ultimately, the catastrophe of the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria should raise awareness about preventive measures that can reduce the impacts of disasters particularly in vulnerable regions and disaster-prone areas.

Misbar’s Sources:




Al Jazeera

The Guardian

The Guardian

HuffPost UK



The Washington Post