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Earth Science

New Hope For Predicting Earthquakes 27

Posted by Soulskill
from the give-it-a-fair-shake dept.
Kristina writes "Interviews with several geophysicists reveal that new data and new understandings about how earthquakes really happen inspire some hope in pursuing the short-term prediction of earthquakes. 'Much of the current work aims to decode how stress is distributed and redistributed far below the surface and among more than one fault in an area. Understanding that pattern could help scientists recognize when stress is setting the stage for a large quake.' This article goes into the latest ideas on what we know and don't know about when large earthquakes happen, and it talks with two Italian scientists about the large quake that hit central Italy in April."
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New Hope For Predicting Earthquakes

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  • Related research (Score:3, Interesting)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @12:59PM (#29076665)

    If you can figure out when fatigued metal will break under a certain sheer force, that's approximately the same class of problem. It hasn't happened yet, AFAIK.

    • by ScrewMaster (602015) * on Saturday August 15, 2009 @01:02PM (#29076691)

      If you can figure out when fatigued metal will break under a certain sheer force, that's approximately the same class of problem. It hasn't happened yet, AFAIK.

      True, I suppose ... although the scale of the problem is somewhat greater. Rock also tends to flow under pressure, so it's not a simple matter of shear force.

      • by terremoto (679350)

        True, I suppose ... although the scale of the problem is somewhat greater. Rock also tends to flow under pressure, so it's not a simple matter of shear force.

        ... and the places where earthquakes occur are deep in the earth [wikipedia.org] and not amenable to direct observation. Earthquake prediction, in the sense of saying when any specific event will occur, is a very hard problem.

    • by drseuk (824707)
      This problem was solved years ago by millions of UK 80s kids carrying out large scale research much to the dismay of kitchen moms and to the delight of cutlery manufacturers. Yuri Geller has a lot to answer for except in Sheffield where he's supposedly more popular than the Queen.
    • by icebike (68054)

      If you can figure out when fatigued metal will break under a certain sheer force, that's approximately the same class of problem. It hasn't happened yet, AFAIK.

      There are machines for that. Your can measure the tensile strength and sheer resistance of metals rather precisely, and with enough accuracy for just about all practical applications (except perhaps Bridges in Minneapolis).

      But rocks as various depths are a problem of a different nature. Measuring is hit or miss, and flat impossible in most strata. Rocks actually flow and deform. There is no such thing as a pure rock formation.

      Its a lot harder.

    • by RockDoctor (15477)

      If you can figure out when fatigued metal will break under a certain sheer force, that's approximately the same class of problem. It hasn't happened yet, AFAIK.

      That situation would be analogous to understanding the faulting behaviour of arbitrarily large units of quite homogeneous rock - say a gabbroic or ultrabasic intrusion. Which is, a moderately good first-order description of the axial complex of a mid-ocean ridge and the oceanic slab that rolls off the conveyor by continuous casting.

      The next step of c

  • Quake live? (Score:2, Funny)

    by drseuk (824707)
    But does it run on Linux?
  • Other than to satisfy our curiosity I have to wonder what the point is? What exactly would we do to prepare for an earthquake that we don't already do(such as construct sturdier buildings or educate people on places where it's a good idea to take cover)?

    Unless predicting involves the exact time which doesn't seem to be the case and I doubt will ever be possible what exactly will we do with the knowledge that "it's coming, soonish"?
    • What exactly would we do to prepare for an earthquake that we don't already do(such as construct sturdier buildings or educate people on places where it's a good idea to take cover)?
      I am not sure if that is a serious question or not. The obvious answer is that so people can evacuate to somewhere safe.
      If I lived in an earthquake zone I would be much happier if I could be told ahead of time when a big one was expected.

  • An interesting article. The upper continental crust deforms in a brittle manner and is amenable to modeling via Finite Element Analysis (FEA). For example McCloskey et al. (2005) used FEA to forecast an increased risk of a major earthquake on the Sumatra Subduction Zone immediately south-east of the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake, due to a massive build up of post-seismic stress. Sure enough, within weeks there was an 8.8 Mag earthquake in the right place.

    It is possible today, and there are several other exam

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