Can Radon gas leakes accurately predict earthquakes?

The researcher Giampaolo Giuliani (Italy’s Gran Sasso laboratory) alerted authorities in the region of Abruzzo that a quake was imminent – and was accused for raising a false alarm. Mr. Giuliani refused any interview. He claimed that he based his warning on radon emissions that instruments at his lab were picking up.
Radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas, has been listed as one of several possible indicators of an impending temblor. Increased levels of Radon gas (222Rn) in wells is a precursor of earthquakes recognized by the IASPEI (International Association of Seismology and Physics of The Earth’s Interior). Although Radon has a relatively short half life (t1/2=98hrs), and is therefore unlikely to seep to the surface through rocks from the depths at which seismic activity occurs. However, Radon is very soluble in water, and can routinely be monitored in wells and springs. Often, Radon levels at such springs show reaction to seismic events and, worldwide, many are monitored for earthquake predictions.
March, 23rd, 2009, Giuliani said during a March 23rd video interview posted on a local Abruzzo website, “Our instrument … allows us to see continuously the seismic precursors within this element (Radon), which manifests itself between six and 24 hours ahead of a quake.” He also emphasized the need to create a network that would allow scientists to monitor carefully radon activity.


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