Daniel Halliday
Sep 26 · Last update 1 mo. ago.

Why is Earthquake prediction so difficult?

It has been estimated that up to half a million Earthquakes occur around the world each year, some with devastating human impact and a range of consequences such as severe building damage, fire, floods, tsunamis, landslides, soil liquefaction, and even volcanic activity. The study of earthquakes is known as seismology, but despite a good understanding of the mechanics of earthquakes and accurate methods of measuring earthquakes the science has achieved relatively little in the way of pre-emptive preparedness or a warning system for large-scale seismic activity. Even the few accurate predictions of earthquakes that have been made remain controversial. Why is it so hard to predict seismic activity? And why are forecasts and predictions of earthquakes so controversial?
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Difficult but may have been done before
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Difficult but may have been done before

The Coordinating Committee for Earthquake Prediction brings together representatives from around the world annually to share data and evaluations on this subject. They have shortlisted a range of detectible precursors that are currently being investigated to see if they can be used to accurately predict an impending earthquake; including seismic waves, radioactive emissions, electromagnetic anomalies, satellite observations, tectonic trends, and even animal behaviour. The latter has been a noted feature of earthquakes previously; the 2009 L’Aquila earthquake in Abruzzo, Italy was marked with a disappearance of common toads days before the earthquake. But more quantitative features were simultaneous observed also, Giampaolo Giuliani, a local technician noticed rising levels of radioactive radon emissions from four radometer stations in L’Aquila. While it may seem futile, for many studying earthquake data there are a number of precursor events that happen before earthquakes which are of interest to scientific bodies and universities dedicated to earthquake prediction and research.

annalsofgeophysics.eu/index.php/annals/article/view/5350 theguardian.com/world/2010/apr/05/laquila-earthquake-prediction-giampaolo-giuliani en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earthquake_prediction#Precursors physicsworld.com/a/a-radon-detector-for-earthquake-prediction

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Daniel Halliday
Apr 19
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Maybe impossible

Many theories have been put forward for scientific methods that could be used in order to predict seismic activity, by either establishing reliable earthquake precursors, physically measureable events that are consistent before seismic shifts, or analysing statistical trends. However no predictions have been made constituently and no method has shown to have a distinct relation to what may be too complex an event for science to explain. It therefore remains controversial as false predictions or claims have often caused public panic and widespread unrest. Preparedness is the only way to approach the issue of earthquakes, instead focussing on trying to improve earthquake-warning systems, systems that are currently in use, to inform other regions of earthquakes will allow more prepare for a disaster.

nature.com/nature/debates/earthquake/index.html

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Daniel Halliday
Sep 26
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