On February 6th, the “prediction” of a Dutch seismologist, Frank Hoogerbeets, about the earthquake in Turkey was disseminated across various Facebook accounts (1, 2, 3, 4), Facebook pages and online media (1, 2, 3, 4). According to Frank Hoogerbeets, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake would “sooner or later” occur in southeastern Turkey, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.
On February 7th, a new forecast regarding earthquakes (1, 2) was published on Facebook, according to which a 6-point magnitude earthquake is expected in Georgia on February 9th.
Frank Hoogerbeets is a pseudo-scientist whose predictions have no scientific value, as the theory that the alignment of the planets can predict earthquakes has long been rejected by scientists. Hoogerbeets often predicts impending devastating earthquakes, but his predictions have not happened in the past. In addition, he did not specify the exact date of the earthquake, as any natural disaster may occur “sooner or later.”
As for the second claim about the expected earthquake in Georgia, the mentioned information is without evidence, as it is impossible to make short-term predictions about earthquakes and determine the exact time in advance.
On February 3rd, 2023, Frank Hoogerbeets tweeted: “Sooner or later there will be a ~M 7.5 #earthquake in this region (South-Central Turkey, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon).” The popularity of the post on the social network was followed by a response from the scientific community, during which the validity of both the “forecast” and the methodology was questioned.
American weekly online publication Newsweek contacted geologist Roger Musson, former head of seismic hazards and archives at the British Geological Survey, with more than 35 years of experience in seismology. According to Musson, the forecast does not specify the exact time, so it cannot be considered a prophecy. “A prediction should state time, place and magnitude. ‘Sooner or later’ does not constitute a time. So he did not predict the quake.” says Musson.
David Rothery, Professor of Planetary Geosciences at the Open University, told Newsweek in an email that the methodology behind the “forecast” is scientifically dubious, and even though the tweet was published two days before the earthquake, it cannot be considered a prophecy. It’s worth noting that there are a lot of similar predictions on Hoogerbeets’ Twitter account and SSGEOS, although neither of them preceded any high-magnitude tremors. Also, many of these forecasts are vague, covering vast areas that may still experience an earthquake or are already seismically active.
At the end of December 2018, Hoogerbeets made a prediction of an earthquake with a magnitude greater than eight magnitudes, which was also considered doubtful by experts, who said that the planetary alignment has no effect on earthquakes, and an accurate prediction of an earthquake is not possible. It is also worth noting that in the last days and weeks of December 2018, there was not a single earthquake of magnitude 7 to 8 on Earth, and the strongest magnitude of 7.0 was recorded in the Philippines on December 29th, which was lower than the predicted rate. Given that dozens of earthquakes occur every day around the world, it is possible that any one prediction could be right by chance.
In 2017, the American fact-checking organization Snopes also wrote about Hoogerbeets. A Dutch “seismologist”, who calls himself an earthquake “enthusiast”, also claimed in 2017 that due to the planetary alignment, the US, Chile, Peru, Indonesia and the Philippines were at risk of strong earthquakes (magnitude 8.0) between February 24th and March 8th, 2017. According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), earthquakes were recorded in Peru and Indonesia during that period, but none of them caused damage. It should also be noted that Indonesia is located in an extremely active seismic zone.
The theory that the alignment of the planets can predict earthquakes has long been rejected by scientists. According to US Geological Survey, no scientist can predict a specific earthquake but can calculate the probability of future temblors.
Frank Hoogerbeets calls himself an SSGEOS researcher who “has the greatest respect for the planets, especially Earth.” Hoogerbeets’ organization SSGEOS monitors the geometry of celestial bodies in relation to seismic activity. Seismology is the branch of geophysics responsible for the study of earthquakes or tremors that occur within the Earth and on the Earth’s surface. As for planetary geometry, it is a field of astrology and has nothing to do with science. Significantly, no scientific articles or studies are found under the name of Hoogerbeets, and he makes predictions based on specific geometrical positions of the planets, moon and sun.
Should we expect an Earthquake in Georgia on February 9th?
Information about an expected earthquake in Georgia was circulated based on a message from WhatsApp. However, this suspicion has no scientific basis. In a post published on February 7th, Tea Godoladze, director of the Institute of Earth Sciences and the National Seismic Monitoring Center of Ilia State University, writes that there is no danger of an earthquake in Georgia at this stage, and also notes that it is impossible to make short-term forecasts in seismology. According to Godoladze, at this stage, the border of the Arabian plate and the Turkish block, the East Anatolia fault, is activated, although it is a different tectonic unit and is not connected to Georgia.
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