An Indian seismologist claimed to have predicted the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that shook Mexico on April 18 and says he warned his Mexican counterparts about its possible occurrence more than two months ago.
"During my routine scanning of satellite pictures in late January 2014, I found that a particular area on the Mexican coast in the vicinity of Acapulco was perhaps heading for an earthquake," Arun Bapat, one of the world's leading seismologists and former chief of earthquake research at the Central Water and Power Research Station in Pune, told IANS on the telephone.
He said he had used two seismic precursors - the Outgoing Long Wave Radiation (OLR) and Sea Surface Temperature (SST) - to make the prediction.
The energy leaving the Earth as infrared radiation at low energy to space, OLR and is known to rise before any medium to large magnitude earthquake, Mr Bapat said. "The SST has also been found to rise before the occurrence of an earthquake when the potential epicentre is in coastal region or undersea."
Mr Bapat said he made the prediction while studying the temporal variations of OLR and SST from the data made available by American satellites.
He said that his analysis, which he carried out "just as a research exercise", showed that the area near Acapulco in Mexico exhibited "high OLR and SST continuously for the last three months".
"I wrote a short note and had mailed it to a famous Mexican seismologist, Prof. Cinna Lomnitz, in January 2014. He had responded and we had exchanged some mails over this communication," Mr Bapat said.
He said he informed his Mexican counterpart that "both the OLR and SST parameters are clearly showing that the area is undergoing stress-building activity" and requested these to be examined more closely along with "additional parameters such as geological, geophysical, tectonic and other precursory parameters before arriving at any conclusion."
Mr Bapat said he communicated his prediction to Mexican seismologists on Jan 23. The 7.2-magnitude earthquake occurred on April 18, north of the resort city Acapulco, shaking buildings across a large swath of the country.
Mr Bapat, who has been actively engaged in identifying various parameters that help predict major earthquakes, is encouraged by his latest prediction. "It appears that the direction in which we are moving appears to be correct," he noted.