Earthquake prediction

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Earthquake prediction is the art or science of predicting when and where an earthquake will occur.

Most attempts at earthquake prediction are reality-based — the probability of an earthquake occurring in a given region is dependent upon which part of the Earth's crust it is sitting on — and carried out by seismologists. However, earthquakes being as random as they are, earthquake prediction also attracts its fair share of "visionaries" who claim to have uncovered surefire means of anticipating a big one.


[edit] Animal sense

It has long been conjectured that the behavioural pattern of animals can drastically alter in anticipation of a big one. Reports of this alleged phenomenon date back to Ancient Greece. Unfortunately, any evidence of this is merely anecdotal and may simply be a result of confirmation bias. Because this idea cannot practicably be studied in a lab, it is difficult to get a scientific handle on it.

One interesting scientific analysis was an attempt by California Geology to verify a widely believed correlation between increased missing pet notices in San Francisco and earthquakes in the area. No link was found.[1]

Although reports of seismic prescience in animals are widespread across the globe and throughout history, such reports are not easily quantifiable by science and are more than likely a crock of shit.

[edit] Radon emission

There is some evidence that stresses in rock provoke emission of radon. Geophysicists routinely measure radon concentration in well water in seismically active regions. There have been some successful predictions based on this idea, but it is not accepted as definitive.

[edit] Seismic gap

In a strike/slip fault, the moving plate obviously must eventually all move equally all along the fault. But in practice, a typical seismic event results from movement of only one section of the fault. This can be detected, and a map of slippage all along the fault can be developed. If one section has lagged behind the general movement, it is a rather obvious thought that that section, a "gap," is due for a shift. Hence there is potential for prediction on that basis. The idea is not exactly wrong, but it has not proved reliable.

[edit] Earthquake clouds

Certain cloud patterns associated with impending earthquakes have been postulated as far back as 500 CE There are currently some proponents who seem to think some mundane altocumulus cloud cover precipitates an earthquake, often many weeks in advance. It's just as meaningful to claim that a full moon is to blame as one is very likely to happen in the weeks leading up to any earthquake.

[edit] Divine revelation

Among natural disasters, earthquakes are a favourite prediction for religious zealots. For example, immodestly dressed women cause earthquakes in Iran.[2][3]

Despite countless failed prophesies, the same old escape clause gets trotted out: we prayed for mercy and the Lord saved us.

[edit] References

  1. Animals & Earthquake Prediction. U.S. Geological Survey. 2012 August 9.
  2. Foster Disbelief. Wait, Oh, Nevermind, I Follow Your Logic Now….I Mean, What? Foster Disbelief. 2012 July 12.
  3. Mallory Simon. Global 'Boobquake' effort to disprove Iranian cleric begins This Just In. CNN. 2010 April 26.
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