Earthquake Weather

May 19, 2005

The USGS now has a real-time 24 hour forcast of the likelyhood of major earthquakes in California.

From the press release:

“”The new maps represent a synthesis of our knowledge about earthquakes in California,” said Dr Lucy Jones, Scientist-in-charge of the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program in Southern California. “They factor in our knowledge of faults, underlying geology and expected rates of earthquake aftershocks.”

The new maps and the way they were developed are discussed in an article in the current issue of the journal Nature. The methodology was developed by a team from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland, and the U. S. Geological Survey in California, with funding from the Southern California Earthquake Center, ETH and the USGS.

In almost all cases, said Jones, the probabilities on this map will be very low. The background probability for strong to moderate earthquake shaking in most of California is between 1-in-10,000 and 1-in-100,000. By comparison, the average American’s risk of being in a car accident in any 24-hour period is 1-in-2,500. “The only time that probabilities become large enough to cause concern is after a significant earthquake that may have already caused damage,” explained USGS seismologist Dr Matt Gerstenberger. “Aftershocks are likely in this situation, and the new maps show where those aftershocks are most likely to be felt and how the hazard changes with time.””

Hmmm… Do I understand this correctly?  It seems to be saying that this probably won’t predict the big one, but if you survive that with a working computer and internet connection, it might tell you about the aftershocks…


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