Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Prediction vs. Forecasting

More detailed questions about earthquake PREDICTION and earthquake FORECASTING

Q: hello, i have looked at your website for information about predicting earthquakes and i learnt that scientists cant tell when an earthquake will exactly happen but they can assume were one will hit (the probability of a major earthquake occurring in the San Francisco Bay over the next 30 years is 67%).

i still had a question asking: what do you use (tool, machine etc) to predict earthquakes ?

i would also like to know who is answering this question.  thanks.

- Louis C

A: You are correct. After more than a century of full-time research by some of the finest minds on the planet, it is apparently not possible to PREDICT an earthquake. It IS possible, however to FORECAST an earthquake, and the example you gave is an excellent one. 

By predict, one means to know beforehand the time, location, and magnitude of an event. To forecast is to calculate the future likelihood of an event in a region that has a history of earthquake activity. In simplest terms, a geologic and instrumental record is assembled of activity in, for example the San Francisco Bay area or the Los Angeles Basin. With sufficient data, one can assemble a statistical distribution of magnitude and frequency of events. From this a forecast can be made.

The details of how this is done, that you may have already seen, can be found here:

Hope this helps answer your question.

More information on the person replying to you can be found here:
The short version can be found here:

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