to nature home page debates 25 February 1999


Publications (in english) by R.J. Geller on the subject of earthquake prediction.

The following paper is the best single summary of my views on earthquake prediction, and also contains a thorough list of references to published literature. I therefore recommend that interested readers start with the following paper:

Geller, R. J. Earthquake prediction: a critical review. Geophys. J. Int. 131, 425-450 (1997).

Other publications:

  1. Geller, R. J. Shake-up for earthquake prediction. Nature 352, 275-276 (1991).
    A 'commentary' article suggesting that a fundamental review of Japan's earthquake prediction program, which was founded in 1965, was long overdue. This article stirred up considerable discussion both in Japan and elsewhere.

  2. Geller, R. J. Unpredictable earthquakes. Nature 353, 612 (1991).
    K. Hamada published a criticism of my above 'commentary' article. This item is my reply to that.

  3. Geller, R. J. The role of seismology. Nature 373, 554 (1995).
    Published immediately after the January 17, 1995 Kobe earthquake. This short letter suggests that seismologists should focus on practical steps for mitigating seismic hazards rather than earthquake prediction.

  4. Geller, R. J. VAN: A Critical evaluation. in A Critical review of VAN (Lighthill, J.H. ed.) 155-238 (World Scientific, Singapore, 1996).
    This volume is the Proceedings of a conference, "A critical review of VAN", convened in May 1995 in London by the International Council of Scientific Unions and the Royal Society. "VAN" is an acronym for the team of Varotsos, Alexopoulos, Nomicos, and other co-workers, who claim they can predict earthquakes by geo-electrical observations. My paper is strongly critical of VAN's claims.

  5. Geller, R. J. Debate on evaluation of the VAN Method: Editor's introduction. Geophys. Res. Lett. 23, 1291-1293 (1996).
    The special issue of Geophysical Research Letters, "Debate on VAN", contains a wide spectrum of articles, both pro and con, on the claims of the "VAN" group (Varotsos, Alexopoulos, Nomicos, and other co-workers) to be able to predict earthquakes by geo-electrical observations.

  6. Geller, R. J., Jackson, D. D., Kagan, Y. Y. and Mulargia, F. Earthquakes cannot be predicted. Science 275, 1616-1617 (1997).
    A 'perspective' article whose contents are accurately described by the title.

  7. Geller, R. J., Jackson, D. D., Kagan, Y. Y., and Mulargia, F. Cannot earthquakes be predicted? Science 278, 488-490 (1997).
    The above paper is a reply to criticisms from (a) M. Wyss and (b) R. Aceves & S. K. Park of our previous 'perspective'. The criticisms by Wyss and by Aceves and Park were published in the same issue.

  8. Geller, R. J. Earthquakes: Thinking about the unpredictable. Eos Trans. Am. Geophys. Union 78, 63-67 (1997).
    This paper is a report on the discussion meeting, "Evaluation of Schemes for earthquake prediction," that was convened in London in November 1996 by the Royal Astronomical Society and Joint Association for Geophysics.

  9. Geller, R. J. Dim prospects for earthquake prediction. Eos Trans. Am. Geophys. Union 79, 497 (1999).
    The following two articles were published partly in response to my above report in Eos on the 1996 London meeting:
    Gusev, A., Earthquake precursors: Banished forever? Eos, Trans. Am. Gephys. Union 79, 71-72, 1998.
    Lomnitz, C., Comment: Unpredictability of earthquakes-Truth or Fiction? Eos, Trans. Am. Geophys. Union 79, 373 1998.
    This item is essentially my response.

  10. Geller, R. J. Predictable publicity, Astron. Geophys. J. Roy. Astr. Soc. 38(1), 16-18 (1997).
    [reprinted Seismol. Res. Lett. 68, 477-480 (1997).]
    This article is a criticism of earthquake prediction researchers who publicize claims in the media that are not backed up by peer-reviewed publications in professional journals.

  11. Geller, R. J. VAN cannot predict earthquakes - nor can anyone else. INCEDE Newsletter 5(4), 5-7 (1997).
    (Available at
    Also in the same newsletter is an article from an opposing point of view:
    Uyeda, S. The VAN method of short-term earthquake prediction.

    My article is critical of the claims by "VAN" to be able to predict earthquakes by geo-electrical observations, while the accompanying article by Uyeda supports VAN's claims.

  12. Geller, R. J. Prospects for and limits on long-term forecasts. in Proceedings, International Symposium and Workshop, Exploring into Long-term seismic activities--Applications in Disaster Prevention 111-129 (Science and Technology Agency, Japan, 1997).
    This paper discusses the difficulties facing efforts to make long-term forecasts of seismic hazards. I suggest that caution should be exercised in making overly specific statements regarding particular hypothetical future earthquakes, and that emphasis should be placed on statistical forecasts. I also suggest that care is needed to emphasize the uncertainties accompanying statistical forecasts of long-term seismic hazards.

  13. Geller, R. J., Jackson, D. D., Kagan, Y. Y., Mulargia, F. and Stiros, S. C. Claims of success in using geoelectrical precursors to predict earthquakes are criticized---and defended. Physics Today 51, (1998).
    Our letter criticizes the claims of "VAN" to be able to predict earthquakes by geo-electrical observations. Two other independent letters by G. Stavrakakis, and by S. A. Anaganostopoulos, also criticized VAN. P. Varotsos, N. Sarlis, and M. Lazaridiou's reply to these three critical letters was published concurrently. All of the above items were published under the above title.

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