Q:

Can we predict earthquakes?

A:

Quick Answer

Scientists can make predictions about earthquake probability, but there is no reliable way to foresee any given earthquake. Some people have claimed that they can predict earthquakes, but their claims do not withstand scientific scrutiny.

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Can we predict earthquakes?
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Full Answer

In areas along large fault lines, where earthquakes occur more frequently, scientists can estimate the average length of time between major earthquakes. On the San Andreas fault, for example, there is usually a large-scale earthquake every 100 years. Many scientists subscribe to the theory that the next earthquake is likely to happen when the strain released by the previous earthquake is re-established.

Short-term earthquake prediction is much more difficult to accomplish. There are some precursors to warn the community, but it is difficult to observe them and to determine if the precursors actually cause earthquakes.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    How do you know if there was just an earthquake?

    A:

    The United States Geological Survey keeps a record of all earthquakes around the globe. In addition to providing seismic data from survey sites, the USGS also offers an application that allows users to report earthquake tremors they have felt. The USGS records all geological activity, not just earthquakes.

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  • Q:

    What happens during an earthquake?

    A:

    Earthquakes are caused by sudden movement in opposing tectonic plates in the earth. As plates move against each other, sometimes the rocky edges catch against one another. The rest of the plate remains in motion, putting stress on the sticking point, and when it gives way, an earthquake occurs.

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  • Q:

    How does an earthquake form?

    A:

    Earthquakes happen when the boundaries of the Earth's tectonic plates bump and slide past one another; sometimes, they get stuck on jagged edges and cause earthquakes once they are released. These earthquakes are always followed by aftershocks starting from the same epicenter.

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  • Q:

    How do you prepare for an earthquake?

    A:

    To prepare for an earthquake, prepare your house by placing objects to minimize falling damage. Draft an emergency plan, and practice earthquake drills. During an earthquake, drop to your hands and knees, cover your head and neck, and hold on.

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