Shroud of Turin
Shroud of Turin image caused by an earthquake, researchers sayWiki Commons

The Shroud of Turin, which worshippers say depicts the face of Jesus, was caused by an earthquake, not the son of God, researchers have said.

Experts at the Politecnico di Torino in Italy say the image on the shroud could have been caused by neutron radiation from an earthquake, which also would have led to the age of the shroud being wrongly identified through carbon dating.

Research leader Alberto Carpinteri says the radiation caused by the 33AD earthquake in old Jerusalem could have induced the image of a crucified man onto the linen cloth, and caused the carbon dating completed in 1988 to give incorrect information.

The shroud was first photographed in 1898 by Secondo Pia. Immediately, there was debate about if it was Jesus' burial cloth, its age and how the image was created.

Shroud of Turin
Neutron radiation caused by earthquakeWiki Commons

Radiocarbon in the 1980s showed it was 728 years old. However, later researchers said it is much later because of neutron radiation, which is where free neutrons are released from atoms and interact with nuclei of other atoms to create new isotopes.

Until now, scientists have no reason as to why neutron radiation would have taken place.

Carpinteri and his research team believe the high-frequencly pressure waves generated during earthquakes are the source of these emissions.

Their work previously looked at fission reactions, which are triggered when brittle rock is crushed under a press machine. During this process, neutrons are produced without gamma emissions. From this, they believe seismic activity could result in the same reactions.

The earthquake in old Jerusalem in 33AD measured 8.2 on the Richter Scale and could have caused this sort of reaction, Carpinteri said.

Researchers believe that the radiation could have created the distinctive image on the Shroud, while also increasing the level of isotopes, leading to confusion in its radiocarbon date.

"We believe it is possible that neutron emissions by earthquakes could have induced the image formation on the Shroud's linen fibres, through thermal neutron capture on nitrogen nuclei, and could also have caused a wrong radiocarbon dating," Carpinteri said.