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Predicting the Timing of Major Earthquakes

Dec 01, 2006

Predicting the Timing of Major Earthquakes - major earthquakes in California having a magnitude greater than 6 cluster in time. The timing of large earthquakes is associated with periods when "bursts" of small earthquakes, with magnitudes of 3 or less, tend to be suppressed. Northern California is currently in a period of suppressed smaller earthquakes. The opposite is true in southern California, where bursts of smaller earthquakes are relatively larger. These findings indicate that northern California is currently at higher risk than southern California for a major earthquake. Forecasting when a major earthquake will erupt - within a window of two to three years - could be possible, based on mathematical studies by researchers. The group has previously forecast the likely locations of major earthquakes over a 10-year period. From Jan. 1, 2000, to the present, 17 of the 19 significant California earthquakes having magnitudes greater than 5 have been located on "hotspots" identified on a geographic forecast map of the state. The new approach narrows the time window, but over a broader geographical area. Major earthquakes are still most likely to occur on the geographic hotspots identified previously.

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