Is unusual animal behavior observed before earthquakes? Yes and no

Dale F. Lott, Benjamin Hart, Kenneth L. Verosub, Mary W. Howell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Following two moderate earthquakesreports of the behavior of animals prior to the earthquakes were gathered using a standardized interview schedule. This schedule was developed to maximize the reliability and validity of the reports through the application of accepted social science methodology. Interviews with 50 households near WillitsCaliforniaproduced 17 reports of unusual animal behavior prior to that earthquake. Only one of thirty‐five interviewees who experienced a similar earthquake near OvandoMontanareported unusual animal behavior prior to the earthquake. This difference in the frequency of positive reports and the content of the positive reports from Willits support the inference that a number of animals at Willits were responding to physical precursors which were absent at Ovando. The behavior reported at Willits was unusual in the sense that there was no immediate explanation for itbut it was not bizarre. On the contraryit was always behavior typical of that species when motivated by generalized anxiety. Unusual behavior was often reported in only one or a few animals at a particular location so that even at Willits most animals were described as having behaved normally.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)685-687
Number of pages3
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jan 1 1979
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)
  • Geophysics


Dive into the research topics of 'Is unusual animal behavior observed before earthquakes? Yes and no'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this