Q:

Can we predict earthquakes?

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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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    What causes an earthquake?

    A:

    Earthquakes occur when two blocks of Earth's crust slip past each other suddenly. Tectonic plates fit together like pieces of a puzzle and are continually moving. The edges of tectonic plates are rough and sometimes stick, causing an earthquake when they break free.

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  • 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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    What is the epicenter of an earthquake ?

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    The epicenter of an earthquake is the point on the surface of the Earth directly above the point in the crust where a seismic rupture occurs. This origin point within the crust is called the hypocenter or focus.

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    Where should you hide during an earthquake?

    A:

    The best place to take shelter during an earthquake is underneath a sturdy desk or table, preferably one that covers the entire body. If this option is not available, protecting the head and neck is the most important safety concern. Do not stand in a doorway, as that advice is outdated and unsafe.

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