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

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    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:

    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 Do not stand in a doorway, as that advice is outdated and unsafe.

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    What are the effects of an earthquake?

    A:

    The effects of an earthquake range from mild to severe and include structural damage, damaged gas lines, tidal waves, fires, avalanches and flooding. The amount of damage an earthquake can cause depends greatly on the size of the earthquake. The 1994 earthquake in Northridge, California was a magnitude 6.7, caused 57 deaths, 5,000 injuries, and damaged homes, bridges and structures.

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  • Q:

    What is the longest earthquake?

    A:

    The Sumatran-Andaman earthquake on December 26, 2004, is the longest lasting earthquake ever recorded. The continuous shaking lasted from 500 to 600 seconds, or about 10 minutes.

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