Earthquake prediction still stymies scientists

By Alicia Chang

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10 years is a blink of an eye in geological terms. Successfully predicting an earthquake within that timeframe is still a feat, but unfortunately is of little use practically.

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Agree with Laguna. Personally, I think there will never be any reliable means of prediction except vagueries like we have now; "an earthquake will likely happen in the Tokyo area within the next 30 years". The best we're likely to get is a warning 30 seconds or so before it hits full tilt. Better than nothing, I suppose, but only helpful for those who see the warning and have a safe place to get to.

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This article seems to be missing some important facts. As far as I understand, animals DO know before the major shaking of an earthquake because the P-waves travel faster than the actual physical shaking. Its not that animals "SEEMS" to have the ability to sense earthquakes. I believe it is these p-wave sensors that have been installed around Japan that now give us our "pre-warnings", but of course, these are exactaly "predictions"...

I believe I also heard some information regarding the magnetic discharges that occur from the bedrock before a quake, and that sensor readings from the last big quake around the San Andreas show us that there are distinct changes in magnetic discharges up to a few weeks prior to some earthquakes... Furthermore, it is these pre-quake discharges that cause some odd cloud formations, known as "jishin-kumo"... The problem with relying on clouds, of course, is that winds will also break cloud formations, and I believe not all earthquakes will have this pre-quake magnetic discharge...

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The Tokyo Metropolitan government has experimented with catfish (ナマズ) between 1978 and 1992. They found out that out of the 87 earthquakes having a seismic intensity of 3.0 or greater, the catfish showed abnormal activity 10 days ahead of the earthquake in 27 cases. One out of three ain't bad.

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@CrazyJoe - With a random field study, any success below 51% is a bust.

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I think if you do underground nuclear tests or suck all the oil out of the earth without regard for the substructure, as is usually done in random patterns, you can predict an earthquake will come soon.

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As far as I understand, animals DO know before the major shaking of an earthquake because the P-waves travel faster than the actual physical shaking.

P-waves are also "physical shaking" - you feel these the same as animals do in every earthquake.

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Don't recall posting here nor do I see a post of mine above.

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CrazyJoe - ha ha! I'm convinced that my whippet has a built-in GPS - he even manages to find his way back to our tent around 6:00 AM after he unzips it and heads out by himself at 5:00 to hunt for rabbits - but measuring "abnormal activity" with this animal would prove impossible: he's always weird.

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@Smorkian: yes, that is a good clarification, thanks. @It''S ME: yes, rather disconcerting to see we picked oddly close names--- I tried to see if I could change mine, but no such setting... :-(

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No worries just need to read the threads more careful.

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How earthquakes occur is also actually only a guess based on the tiny amount of information that seismologists have (compared to the size of the crust alone). They haven't been down there to check. It could easily be the forces beneath the crust that cause earthquakes to occur and cause them to discover new faults which may well have been there before.

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We can joke about earthquakes and talk BS about earthquakes but when your house, building etc..all come falling down on you, as back in LA, SFO. Mexico City, Managua, Christchurch, Tohoku wont be laughing and talking BS, just look at the poor people over in Haiti, they are still trying to dig themselves out of that mess or over in Pakistan etc...

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If I'm correct many animals show particular behavior either a few mins or hours before a quake hits since the senses are more on with instinct, like how dogs usually try and warn their owners that its time to go somewhere safe etc.

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I once worked on a project to predict earthquakes in the Kyrgyz Mountains of Kyrgyzstan. The idea was to warn people in Bishkek so they could go to safe places. The problem is, while you can tell when the earth is upset you cannot predict the exact moment or hour or day or week or month or even year when the pressure will let loose. While HonestDictator is correct about dogs knowing, we have lost our abilities--if we ever had them--to listen to the earth. Elbuda is also correct, earthquakes are scary giving you no place to hide. BTW, my work on the Bishkek seismic network was very minor and more than 20 years ago. Done nothing about it recently.

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