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Earthquake and Vertical / EQ Cloud

There have been quite a buzz lately in Indonesia in regard to Earthquake (EQ) clouds. News have been broadcasted about sightings of (allegedly) EQ clouds, and the fact that there were EQ of great magnitude that happened afterwards.

Rovicky was kind enough to share his geological expertise, and have concluded that predicting EQ through cloud sighting is not scientifically feasible.

I found the topic, earthquake prediction, interesting. Personally, living very close to a fault (running through west of Sumatera then continues on south of Java), I would really love to be able to know when a quake would occur. So I set aside a bit of time and did some research on the subject. Especially on the vertical / EQ cloud, since it’d be the easiest for us.

Found an article on LA weekly, about an interview with Shou. Quite interesting, and reveal more about this Shou’s person. The journalist himself was probably driven to write this piece after a personal experience – his wife acquired the ability to accurately predict earthquake when she was pregnant.

Still, there’s a showstopper with Shou’s current work:

“How do you know it’s not just a regular cloud?” I ask him.

“Experience tells the difference,” he says

Scientists will need to make this a measurable process, not just one based on intuition. If Shou died, the knowledge may be gone with him, and we’ll have to start from the beginning again.

Returning back to Rovicky briefly – he complained that Shou’s work is not yet of practical application, but still of research quality. I agree with that.
On the other hand, he also complained that of all websites the discusses this, none are from .edu or .gov domain. I must say that I found the contrary.

For example, Rovicky noted the paper on GIS as an example. However, this paper was actually published on a UN workshop on Tehran. GIS just republished it again.
It was originally published by Despite its .org domain name, I think it can be considered as a reliable source since UNOOSA is short for United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs.

I also found links/discussions to Shou’s work from, There were other academic sources, but many of them are in Turkish or some other language I don’t understand at all.

Also I found a discussion among (I assume) geological scientists, where it took a report of a vertical cloud sighting, and even proposed another explanation for it.

This seems to be in the line with this paper published on Taiwan gov’t website, where the appearance of EQ cloud was considered as “important”.

Conclusion :

  1. The Earthquake (vertical) Cloud theory still needs a lot of work. Particularly in exposing the exact science of the cloud shape, differentiating EQ cloud with other cloud, etc. This can be started for example by giving Shou access to more satellite images, getting scientists on other fields to work together, and so on.
  2. Therefore (point #1), it is not yet fit for public consumption. This is to avoid public chaos in case of appearance of similar clouds, and other concerns
  3. On the other hand, it is also not in the best public interest to just dismiss Zhonghao Shou’s work and theory. Noting the rather good track record (60%) and that even the misses (according to Z.Shou) are not all prediction errors.
  4. One day we may be finally able to predict Earthquake; but not by just using a method. It may very well achieved by implementing several methods, cross examining the results, and making a more accurate predictions based on those.
  5. In the mean time, we need to work on our preparations. We need to get used to live with earthquakes. Buildings that won’t fall down, educating people, getting crisis plan prepared and implemented by local governments, and so on.
    If we can do this comprehensively, then our need for EQ prediction may become much less

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