International Committee on issues of Global Changes of the Geological Environment, “GEOCHANGE”

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ElchinKhalilov: To GNFE, Turkish earthquake did not come as a surprise. Interview

Monday, 24 October 2011, 13:26 Baku time, 08:26 GMT
Exclusive interview by of Professor ElchinKhalilov, President of the Global Network for the Forecasting of Earthquakes (GNFE), on the magnitude 7.2 earthquake which struck the Van province, southeastern Turkey.

 Mr. Khalilov, how can you comment on the earthquake in Turkey which caused a massive death toll and destruction?

First of all, I would like to express on behalf of the Presidium of the Global Network for the Forecasting of Earthquakes (London, UK) and the Board of the International Committee GEOCHANGE on Global Geological and Environmental Change (Munich, Germany) our deepest condolences to the families of the earthquake’s victims and to the people of Turkey.

We mourn for the dead together with the brother nation and will make every effort to the extent possible to mitigate the effects of strong earthquakes by introducing new technologies of earthquake forecasting and earthquake engineering.

The quakewas not a surprise to GNFE. As early as in the beginning of this year, a map was published in the popular Turkish “Milliyet” newspaper containing long-term forecasts for strong earthquakes with magnitude over6.5 which are expected in the next five years for Turkey and adjacent regions. I am once more demonstrating this map where you can see the epicenter of a major earthquake forecasted by us in the area where it occurred October 23, 2011. Below is given a map of the earthquake which hit the Van province.

Then this prediction raised an incredible hype while many leading Turkish newspapers reprinted the map and all leading TV channels covered the story with comments from a number of Turkish seismologists. I decided not to enter into debate, saying just as I did during the 2000 Baku earthquake – “time will judge us”. Time did so and our forecast has been fully confirmed.

What can you say about a short-term forecast? Have there been any and who has been informed of it?

Yes, it was made and information about it was sent to all members of the social network which officially started functioning in the test mode since it was presented during the World Forum – International Congress GEOCATACLYSM-2011 held 19-21 September 2011 in Istanbul at the LutfiKirdar Congress Center.

Who posts earthquake forecasts in the social network and what kind of network is it?

The specialized social network has been established in 2011 by the International Committee GEOCHANGE on Global Geological and Environmental Change (Germany), the Global Network for the Forecasting of Earthquakes (UK) and World Organization for Scientific Cooperation (Germany). The main purpose of the social network is to prepare the planet’s population for self-rescue and survival during the period ofthe ever-increasing number and energy of natural cataclysms. The network is multilingual and has instructions on how people should act before, during and after various natural disasters:earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods etc. But the most important feature is the presented information on major natural disasters in the world for the moment the network is visited and provision of forecasts for a number of natural disasters and natural phenomenaranging from weather forecasts to outlining the areas of expected strong earthquakes. Forecasts of the areas where strong earthquakes are expected are provided by the Global Network for the Forecasting of Earthquakes.

Mr. Khalilov, some scientists keep on insisting that predicting earthquakes is impossible but your Global Network GNFE is now providing such forecasts for people worldwide. Are scientists’ views so much polarized over this issue?

Several years ago, views were not so polarized since in most cases, there was only one opinion that it is impossible to make short-term forecasts. But with the appearance of GNFE in 2008, the situation began to change radicallyas the new technology has made a real scientific and technological breakthroughas documented by international patents and numerous publications and presentations at international conferences. Each new country becoming a full member of GNFE becomes an ardent supporter and champion of the technology. This is primarilydue to the fact that the scientists directlycarrying out researcheswithin the international cooperation on forecasting earthquakes are getting convinced themselves of the effectiveness of the new method and ATROPATENA stations of forecasting earthquakes.This process cannot be stopped as the “genie” of the new technology has already been let out of the bottle.

For instance, a joint presentation was made under my direction at the World Forum on natural cataclysms held 19-21 September 2011 in Istanbul, by a group of known scientists and experts:Academician Vitaly Starostenko (Director of the Institute of Geophysics of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine and Vice-President of the Global Network for the Forecasting of Earthquakes), Dr. Muhammad Qaisar (Director of Pakistan Center For Earthquake Studies), Dr. Wahyudi (Scientific Coordinator of the earthquake forecasting program of the Indonesian province of Yogyakarta), Dr. CavitYatman (Director of GNFE Research and Production Center in Turkey) and other scientists. The information made public by the presentation contained details onthe GNFE forecast issued March 9, 2011 for the disastrous Japanese earthquake of March 11, 2011 with 8.9 magnitude and the results of post-earthquake studies. The presentation provided irrefutable evidence of the effectiveness of the ATROPATENA earthquake forecasting stations.

We have taken a very bold step, that is, have openly provided forecasts for the areas where strong earthquakes are expected, for the public, realizing that the increase in the number and intensity of powerful earthquakes has entered a new phase. The peak of seismic and volcanic activity expected for 2013-2014 is not far off and people must prepare for it by themselves. They will need to orient themselves well so as not to be taken aback when caught in a natural disaster. We follow the principle: “Forewarned is forearmed”. As proven by a huge number of natural disasters in recent years, the least likely to survive are those who idly wait for help and justhope to be rescued. Everyone has the right to rescue themselves, their family and friends.

On the other hand, openly placing our forecasts in the social network for the people of the entire planet, we demonstrate confidence in the effectiveness of our technology. Now we provide an opportunity to evaluate its efficiency for millions of people in utmost need of this information, who are the most objective and impartial judges relying only on facts, namely, on the statistics of confirmed forecasts.

What are the actual statistics?

Of all the forecasts made, which number over 200 from the moment the Global Network began to operate officially in 2008, more than 93% have been confirmed.

Earlier you said that the provided short-term forecasts are confidential and only governmental structures of GNFE member countries have access to them. Did GNFE abandon their principles with the creation of ?

It certainly didnot. The fact is that the social network provides forecasts not for specific earthquakes but rather for seismically hazardous areas where strong earthquakes are expected during a certain time period. That is the difference. In other words, for governments of the countries – members of the Global Network,strong earthquake forecasts are provided with fairly detailed professional information about the time period of the expected event, its intensity, location of the epicenter and number of the expected quakes. But this information can hardly be understood by ordinary people. What is important to them is to be able togenerally orient themselves in a situation so as to plan their business trips and holidays in earthquake-prone regions with the least risk involved, to be prepared in advance for possible seismic events at certain periods of time, and to leave danger zones in the highest risk periods.

In which countries have the ATROPATENA earthquake forecast stations been set up?

Presently, ATROPATENA stations are set up in Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Indonesia, Turkey and Ukraine. In 2012, we plan to expand the geography of distribution of the ATROPATENA CRYSTAL stations of the new generation (model Kh11).

What other interesting innovations await the participants of the social network after it is fully operational?

In my opinion, one of the most interesting features along with those I have already mentioned isthe “I see” project. Under this project, a section of the social network titled ArkVideo will allow any person in the disaster area to immediately start broadcasting live video information within the social network from their mobile phone or web camera of their laptop.

Thus, members of the social networks will be the first to see what is happening in a disaster area in real time directly from the scene. This is very important because survivors can as well provide crucial information for emergency services and other national and international agencies. There are other interesting ideas to be unveiled in due time.

Thank you for your interview and prompt commentary. We wish you success in your hard and noble work.

N. Gafarova