earthquake prediction

Earthquake Prediction and Control

based on the lecture notes of Prof. Stephen A. Nelson - Tulane University

Long-Term Forecasting
Long-term forecasting is based mainly on the knowledge of when and where earthquakes have occurred in the past.  Thus, knowledge of present tectonic setting, historical records, and geological records are studied to determine locations and recurrence intervals of earthquakes.  Two aspects of this are important.

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Short-Term Prediction

Among the precursor events that may be important are the following:

Controlling Earthquakes

Although no attempts have yet been made to control earthquakes, earthquakes have been known to be induced by human interaction with the Earth.  This suggests that in the future earthquake control may be possible. 

Examples of human induced earthquakes

In the first two examples the increased seismicity was apparently due to increasing fluid pressure in the rocks which resulted in re-activating older faults by increasing strain. 

The problem, however, is that of the energy involved.  Remember that for every increase in earthquake magnitude there is about a 30 fold increase in the amount of energy released.  Thus, in order to release the same amount of energy as a magnitude 8 earthquake, 30 magnitude 7 earthquakes would be required.  Since magnitude 7 earthquakes are still very destructive, we might consider generating smaller earthquakes.   If we say that a magnitude 4 earthquake might be acceptable, how many magnitude 4 earthquakes are required to release the same amount of energy as a magnitude 8 earthquake?   Answer 30 x 30 x 30 x 30 x 30 = 810,000!  Still, in the future it may be possible to control earthquakes either with explosions to gradually reduce the stress or by pumping fluids into the ground.

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