Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Earthquake Forecast Program Has Amazing Success Rate

Date:
October 6, 2004
Source:
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Summary:
A NASA-funded earthquake forecast program has an amazing track record. Published in 2002, the Rundle-Tiampo Forecast has accurately forecast the locations of 15 of California's 16 largest earthquakes this decade, including last week's tremors.

This January 25, 2004, photo shows historic structures and a vehicle damaged in downtown Paso Robles from the 6.5 San Simeon Earthquake.
Credit: Image credit: Dane Golden/FEMA

A NASA-funded earthquake forecast program has an amazing track record. Published in 2002, the Rundle-Tiampo Forecast has accurately forecast the locations of 15 of California's 16 largest earthquakes this decade, including last week's tremors.

The 10-year forecast was developed by researchers at the University of Colorado (now at the University of California, Davis) and from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. NASA and the U.S. Department of Energy funded it.

"We're elated our computer modeling technique has revealed a relationship between past and future earthquake locations," said Dr. John Rundle, director of the Computational Science and Engineering initiative at the University of California, Davis. He leads the group that developed the forecast scorecard. "We're nearly batting a thousand, and that's a powerful validation of the promise this forecasting technique holds."

Of 16 earthquakes of magnitude 5 and higher since Jan. 1, 2000, 15 fall on "hotspots" identified by the forecasting approach. Twelve of the 16 quakes occurred after the paper was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in Feb. 2002. The scorecard uses records of earthquakes from 1932 onward to predict locations most likely to have quakes of magnitude 5 or greater between 2000 and 2010. According to Rundle, small earthquakes of magnitude 3 and above may indicate stress is building up along a fault. While activity continues on most faults, some of those faults will show increasing numbers of small quakes, building up to a big quake, while some faults will appear to shut down. Both effects may herald the possible occurrence of large events.

The scorecard is one component of NASA's QuakeSim project. "QuakeSim seeks to develop tools for quake forecasting. It integrates high-precision, space-based measurements from global positioning system satellites and interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) with numerical simulations and pattern recognition techniques," said JPL's Dr. Andrea Donnellan, QuakeSim principal investigator. "It includes historical data, geological information and satellite data to make updated forecasts of quakes, similar to a weather forecast."

JPL software engineer Jay Parker said, "QuakeSim aims to accelerate the efforts of the international earthquake science community to better understand earthquake sources and develop innovative forecasting methods. We expect adding more types of data and analyses will lead to forecasts with substantially better precision than we have today."

The scorecard forecast generated a map of California from the San Francisco Bay area to the Mexican border, divided into approximately 4,000 boxes, or "tiles." For each tile, researchers calculated the seismic potential and assigned color-coding to show the areas most likely to experience quakes over a 10-year period.

"Essentially, we look at past data and perform math operations on it," said James Holliday, a University of California, Davis graduate student working on the project. Instrumental earthquake records are available for Southern California since 1932 and for Northern California since 1967. The scorecard gives more precision than a simple look at where quakes have occurred in the past, Rundle said.

"In California, quake activity happens at some level almost everywhere. This method narrows the locations of the largest future events to about six percent of the state," Rundle said. "This information will help engineers and government decision makers prioritize areas for further testing and seismic retrofits."

So far, the technique has missed only one earthquake -- a magnitude of 5.2 -- on June 15, 2004, under the ocean near San Clemente Island. Rundle believes this "miss" may be due to larger uncertainties in locating earthquakes in this offshore region of the state. San Clemente Island is at the edge of the coverage area for Southern California's seismograph network. Rundle and Holliday are working to refine the method and find new ways to visualize the data.

Other forecast collaborators include Kristy Tiampo, the University of Western Ontario, Canada; William Klein, Boston University, Boston; and Jorge S. Sa Martins, Universidad Federal Fluminense, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

For images and updated scorecard maps on the Internet, visit http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/environment/0930_earthquake.html.

JPL is managed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Earthquake Forecast Program Has Amazing Success Rate." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 October 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041005071107.htm>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2004, October 6). Earthquake Forecast Program Has Amazing Success Rate. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041005071107.htm
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Earthquake Forecast Program Has Amazing Success Rate." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041005071107.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

AFP (Apr. 23, 2014) — The UN mission in Cyprus (UNFICYP) led a mine clearance demonstration on Wednesday in the UN-controlled buffer zone where demining operations are being conducted near the Cypriot village of Mammari. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
California Drought Is Good News for Gold Prospectors

California Drought Is Good News for Gold Prospectors

AFP (Apr. 22, 2014) — For months California has suffered from a historic drought. The lack of water is worrying for farmers and ranchers, but for gold diggers it’s a stroke of good fortune. With water levels low, normally inaccessible areas are exposed. Duration: 01:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: MN Lakes Still Frozen Before Fishing Opener

Raw: MN Lakes Still Frozen Before Fishing Opener

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) — With only three weeks until Minnesota's fishing opener, many are wondering if the ice will be gone. Some of the Northland lakes are still covered by up to three feet of ice, causing concern that just like last year, the lakes won't be ready. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Warn Of Likely El Niño Event This Year

Scientists Warn Of Likely El Niño Event This Year

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) — With Pacific ocean water already showing signs of warming, the NOAA says there's about a 66 percent chance the event will begin before November. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins