TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Earthquake Forecasting

Earthquake Forecasting

Lisa Minter (
Wed, 18 May 2005 18:20:43 -0500

LONDON (Reuters) - For Californians, getting the latest earthquake
forecast will now be as easy as checking the weather.

They simply have to look on the Internet.

Scientists have developed a computer model, available on, that gives the probability of
damaging tremors occurring in California in the next 24 hours.

"It is a daily forecast map of earthquakes, updated hourly," said
Matthew Gerstenberger, a seismologist at the US Geological Survey in
Pasadena, California.

The map doesn't predict big earthquakes but calculates whether the
region will experience tremors severe enough to break windows or crack

"The probabilities are generally low," said Gerstenberger, who
discussed his work in the science journal Nature.

Gerstenberger and his colleagues believe their forecasting model will
be useful for city managers, people who make decisions about emergency
planning, operators of large facilities, as well as members of the

The model uses knowledge of the behavior of fault lines in California
and factors in effects from recent earthquakes in the area.

"It is dominated by aftershock information, earthquake clustering
information," he said.

"It is not an earthquake prediction tool. We are not saying yes, there
will be an earthquake or no, there won't be an earthquake. It deals
with lower probability events."

The map gives details about California but the researchers said it
could be used for forecasting in other earthquake-prone areas of the

"There is no reason it needs to be limited to California. It is
purely a statistical model driven by earthquake data -- where, when
and how big they are," said Gerstenberger.

Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.

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