Kyoto University confirms flaws in Kumamoto quake paper published by its professor


Kyoto University has confirmed flaws in four images used in a research paper compiled by Aiming Lin, a professor at the university, that was published October 2016 in the U.S. journal Science, the institution has said.

The research paper was about a series of massive earthquakes that hit the prefecture of Kumamoto in April 2016.

At a news conference Tuesday, the university said it had urged Lin to withdraw the research paper and that it also plans to penalize him.

The paper argued that a magma chamber at Mount Aso, a volcano in Kumamoto, prevented a fault in the eastern part of Kyushu from being destroyed by the magnitude 7.3 main temblor that struck on April 16, 2016, two days after a magnitude 6.5 foreshock.

After receiving a report pointing to possible issues with the article in August 2017, the university established a committee including participants from outside the institution to investigate the paper.

The probe found that Lin used a graphic showing underground conditions from a research paper written by a University of Tokyo professor and others. However, the image was used upside down and showed an incorrect location for the focus of the earthquake.

In addition, a map of Mount Aso and the surrounding areas was stretched in the east-west direction, and a cross-section image of the underground from the National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Resilience was incorrectly used.

Lin told the investigation committee that the conclusion of the paper in question was not wrong. He also denied any intention to commit wrongdoing, claiming that he made a careless mistake and that he was not accustomed to using drawing software.

At a news conference held in the city of Kyoto on Tuesday, Nagahiro Minato, executive vice president of the university, said that the committee was unable to confirm whether Lin had intentionally carried out the series of dubious acts, while noting that they amounted to a serious violation of the basic duty of care as a researcher.

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