• Question: Can Earthquake Predictions be improved?

    Asked by fazyo to Derek, Sarah, Tim, Tom on 24 Jun 2011.
    • Photo: Derek McKay-Bukowski

      Derek McKay-Bukowski answered on 22 Jun 2011:


      Earthquake predictions are very poor at the moment, so there is a lot of room for improvement.

      This is an ongoing area of research in geophysics.

      By better understanding the deep subsurface geology, we should be able to better understand the risk areas. Additionally, as more earth quakes occur, we should be able to improve our statistics.

      There are also areas of research that are looking at magnetic or atmospheric indicators. It is not clear if these will help, but it is certainly something that we are looking into to.

      Also, there may be some new technique that we could use to do direct earth stress measurements, which would possibly measure the pressure build ups.

      All of these will help and thus improve our understanding and ability to understand the risks.

      Having specific predictions (such as the exact time and place) are still a long way off though. It is a very difficult problem and it is a problem for which the measurements are very difficult.

    • Photo: Sarah Thomas

      Sarah Thomas answered on 22 Jun 2011:

      There are a number of earthquake and tsunami early warning systems in operation across the world. Here is a link to one in California: http://www.seismicwarning.com/

      Before the recent tsunami in Japan, their warning systems only managed to alert the authorities 15 minutes before it hit…

      Of course earthquake predictions can be improved as at the moment they can only give hours or minutes warning, but this is enough to get people starting to evacuate high-risk areas, so it is pretty incredible!

    • Photo: Tim Millar

      Tim Millar answered on 22 Jun 2011:

      Hopefully, by studying what happens before, during and after the yes we should be able to build up a picture of whats happening.

      In the meantime, we should make building aerthquake proof and try not to live where earthquakes happen, not always an easy option

    • Photo: Tom Crick

      Tom Crick answered on 24 Jun 2011:

      Good answers by Team Chromium!

      The only contribution I can make as a computer scientist is perhaps from the side of better computational modelling of the problem — designing systems, algorithms and techniques to more accurately predict and measure earthquakes.