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damage from the 1894 Istanbul earthquake
ASTROLOGERS PREDICTING EARTHQUAKES
In the early 16th century, Muslim Arabs thought that earthquakes could be predicted by watching for shooting stars (meteoroids), eclipses, or unusual winds. In 1522, an astrologer predicted an earthquake, but it was “prevented” by Friday noon prayers.
EARTHQUAKES CAUSED BY MOUNTAIN ROOTS
In the 14th century, al-Nuwayrī, perhaps borrowing from a pre-Islamic myth, claimed that the mountain Qāf has roots under every city on Earth, and will shake a root to cause an earthquake when ordered to do so by Allah.
EARTHQUAKES CAUSED BY TRAPPED WINDS
Al-Kindi (801-873), living in Baghdad, repeated the claim by Aristotle that winds trapped under the surface of the Earth push up the land, causing earthquakes and causing the land to rise.
Avicenna (Ibn Sīnā) in the early 11th Century repeated the claim by Aristotle that winds trapped under the surface of the Earth push up the land, causing earthquakes and causing the land to rise, but added that solar eclipses rapidly cooling this air could trigger earthquakes. He wrote that earthquakes could be prevented by digging deep wells to relieve the pressure of the air trapped below the surface.
Avicenna wrote that earthquakes can release petrifying substances that instantly turn things into fossils.
LAND HAS RISEN
Al-Biruni (973 – 1048) as a military officer in the Muslim conquest of India, found fossil seashells (probably in the Ganges Valley) high above sea level. From this fact he concluded that earthquakes cause the land to rise.
GANGES IS A SEDIMENTARY VALLEY
Al- Biruni described the Ganges Valley as a sedimentary valley. He came to this conclusion by analyzing the different types of soil particles in the Ganges River from its source to the Bay of Bengal, and theorized that water erosion had carried the particles.
He examined an old riverbed of the Amu Darya River, concluding it had changed course during the past.
Image from Science Illustré in 1894, via Wikimedia Commons.