Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Scientists Predict Earthquake's Location and Strength

Soulskill posted about 10 months ago | from the shaking-up-the-seismology-community dept.

Earth 44

A new study has been published in Nature Geoscience (abstract) detailing how scientists correctly anticipated the location and strength of an earthquake earlier this year. On September 5th, a 7.6 earthquake rocked Costa Rica's Nicoya Peninsula. That region had seen earthquakes of (roughly) magnitude 7 in 1853, 1900, and 1950, so "geoscientists had forecast that a magnitude 7.7 to 7.8 quake should occur around the year 2000, plus or minus 20 years." "The Nicoya Peninsula is prone to earthquakes because it's an area of subduction, where the Cocos Plate is pushing underneath the Caribbean Plate, moving at a rate of about 8.5 centimeters per year. When regions such as this suddenly slip, they produce a megathrust earthquake. Most of the world's largest earthquakes — including the magnitude 9.0 Tohoku-Oki quake in Japan in 2011 and the magnitude 9.15 Sumatra-Andaman earthquake in 2004, both of which produced devastating tsunamis — fall into this category. .. The close study of this region allowed scientists to calculate how much strain was building in the fault and in May 2012 they published a study in which they identified two locked spots capable of producing an earthquake similar to the one in 1950. In September of that year, the landward patch ruptured and produced the earthquake. The offshore one is still locked and capable of producing a substantial but smaller earthquake, an aftershock with a magnitude as high as 6.9, the researchers say."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Yo mamma (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45777247)

"When asked how they discovered this information, scientists said 'we just asked yo mamma where she'd be on the fifth, ohhhhhhhhhhhh!' Upon hearing this, passers by offered this reporter gifts of ice for that 'sick burn.'"

Re:Yo mamma (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45780335)

That's not funny. This news is ground-breaking.

Plus or Minus 20? (5, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about 10 months ago | (#45777285)

Great, so live in a tent in your back yard for your entire adult life then?

With a window like that, any fool can "correctly predict" just about anything.
Beware the stock market crash of 2034, plus or minus 20 years. Don't say you haven't been warned.

I predict hoots of derision heaped upon this story.

Re:Plus or Minus 20? (1)

buttfuckinpimpnugget (662332) | about 10 months ago | (#45777301)

Indeed.

Re:Plus or Minus 20? (1, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | about 10 months ago | (#45778037)

I forecast hoots of derision heaped upon you for not reading the article and assuming the write up on /. was even close to accurate.

Re:Plus or Minus 20? (1)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | about 10 months ago | (#45780883)

Indeed. Reading "geoscientists had forecast a quake around the year 2000, plus or minus 20 years" renders the title "Scientists Predict Earthquake's Location and Strength" so misleading, and hopeless.
If that article wouldn't have been on /., it'd looked like a joke ;-)

Re:Plus or Minus 20? (0)

fatphil (181876) | about 10 months ago | (#45781497)

You've missed the important detail that the paper making the "prediction" was submitted to the journal for review in June 2013, and that the quake it was "predicting" happened in September 2012. It's bogosity like that which gets innocent Italian scientists imprisoned when they can't pull off actual feats of prediction.

I predict you're going to correctly foresee hoots of derision heaped upon this story.

Re:Plus or Minus 20? (1)

tinkerton (199273) | about 10 months ago | (#45786739)

I predict you're going to correctly foresee hoots of derision heaped upon this story. Sometime between now and the next 20 years

Re:Plus or Minus 20? (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | about 10 months ago | (#45782579)

Stock markets crash about every 4 years. Earthquakes at this place happen about every 200 years.

A comparable prediction in the stock market would have a 5 months window.

A middle schooler could have reached that result (1)

Dachannien (617929) | about 10 months ago | (#45777307)

Seriously, this sounds like a math problem for a middle school math class:

Fred found out that an earthquake happened in 1850, 1900, and 1950. When should Fred expect the next earthquake to happen?

A. 2000
B. 1951
C. 2013
D. This is a bogus question because it makes unfounded assumptions as to how earthquakes work without any true understanding as to the underlying mechanics

Re:A middle schooler could have reached that resul (5, Informative)

Dachannien (617929) | about 10 months ago | (#45777403)

Okay, in fairness, I went back and read TFS, and it looks like the real problem here is Soulskill's poor writing skills. A transitional sentence was needed to indicate that the "+/- 20 years" prediction was an old prediction, and that scientists did a new analysis in 2012 that suggested that a large earthquake was imminent (and which happened not long thereafter).

Re:A middle schooler could have reached that resul (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 10 months ago | (#45777545)

Thanks for this. Anybody know if the paper talked about Type I and Type II errors with their method?

Re:A middle schooler could have reached that resul (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45778071)

Without RTFA, I can say that no, they did not -- such discussion is uncommon in this particular field, and has little to do with the results. TFS has little to do with the paper, also.

Re:A middle schooler could have reached that resul (1)

MickLinux (579158) | about 10 months ago | (#45778003)

This is key. To look at the previous pattern of earthquakes and forecast a quake, is not prediction. It is guessing.

To predict, you have to show a relational mechanism that is associated with a coming earthquake. Unfortunately in both weather and quakes, the governmental "science" agencies have pursued a statistical model, which would lead to the conclusion that earthquakes cannot be predicted. Then, as it appears happened with Jack Coles, they equate prediction to crying fire in a crowded theatre, and put those who attempt science in prison.

Thus the science is prevented from advancing.

To predict a quake, you might drill in strain sensors, or study slip, or look at 1-.01 hz radio, or look at ants. All of which is early science at its best, and hogwash at its worst... but when the government prosecutes science, then you limp along as well as you can.

Re:A middle schooler could have reached that resul (1)

m2 (5408) | about 10 months ago | (#45778395)

The study in the article comes from a government-funded agency which operates within a public university, which, in Costa Rica, effectively makes the researchers public employees.

Re:A middle schooler could have reached that resul (1)

MickLinux (579158) | about 10 months ago | (#45780269)

Yes, and government funded science also makes advances in weather forecasting and tornado analysis, despite the official positions of NOAA leadership as well. As I said, the science limps forward as best it can.

Re:A middle schooler could have reached that resul (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 10 months ago | (#45778011)

" I went back and read TFS,"
hay, no fair! I wrote a scathing post comparing your post to monkey poo only to notice at the last minute you went and read the article then posted something intelligible!

Jerk~

Re:A middle schooler could have reached that resul (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45778405)

considering that in 2012, only 20% of the full margin of error (40 or +/-20) remained... any crackpot could have said one was "imminent" based on the original estimate and intervals between the last several. no new analysis needed.

Re:A middle schooler could have reached that resul (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45780217)

Soulskil is wrong in the opening sentence. The earthquake did not occur "this year", but in 2012. Read the abstract.

Just as I predicted! (4, Funny)

Freshly Exhumed (105597) | about 10 months ago | (#45777337)

Over 20 years ago I predicted that in late December, 2013 a group of scientists would announce that they had successfully predicted an earthquake. Unfortunately due to my data from back then having disappeared [slashdot.org] , you'll just have to take my word for it.

Re:Just as I predicted! (1)

ketomax (2859503) | about 10 months ago | (#45777447)

Over 20 years ago I predicted that in late December, 2013 a group of scientists would announce that they had successfully predicted an earthquake. Unfortunately due to my data from back then having disappeared [slashdot.org] , you'll just have to take my word for it.

Joke all you can. But, this is awesome stuff. Now, we have ample time to evacuate the people. In fact, we have enough time for children to grow up and get into college before having to relocate because of some pesky earthquake.

yeah, well... (1, Troll)

radiumsoup (741987) | about 10 months ago | (#45777369)

just don't try this in Italy.

Re:yeah, well... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45777539)

But then they'll convict them of not predicting the big one!

Re:yeah, well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45777673)

But then they'll convict them of not predicting the big one!

No, they convicted them of predicting there wouldn't be an earthquake. They didn't fail to predict one. They failed because they said there wouldn't be one.

Woo? (0)

Omega Hacker (6676) | about 10 months ago | (#45777417)

Waitasec... They took a "50-year quake" pattern and gave it a 40-year window, and now they call that "predicting a quake" ????

Re:Woo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45777501)

Yup! Now please nominate them for a Nobel Prize.

Re:Woo? (2)

brainboyz (114458) | about 10 months ago | (#45777573)

No. Two different studies. The old one gave a 40 year window. The one done in May of 2012 predicted an imminent earthquake due to two potential lock spots, the earthquake then happened in September of 2012.

Re:Woo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45777691)

The one done in May of 2012 predicted an imminent earthquake due to two potential lock spots, the earthquake then happened in September of 2012.

I don't see the word "imminent" or anything close in TFA. Looks like scientists did a follow-up to the old study and said yup, we do see a lot of pressure building up here and here, without revising the original time frame.

Re:Woo? (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 10 months ago | (#45777997)

From this article [eurekalert.org] :

The researchers published a study a few months before the earthquake, describing the particular locked patch with the clearest potential for the next large earthquake in the region. The team projected the total amount of energy that could have developed across that region and forecasted that if the locking remained similar since the last major earthquake in 1950, then there is presently enough energy for an earthquake on the order of magnitude 7.8 there.

Because of limits in technology and scientific understanding about processes controlling fault locking and release, scientists cannot say much about precisely where or when earthquakes will occur. However, earthquakes in Nicoya have occurred about every 50 years, so seismologists had been anticipating another one around 2000, give or take 20 years, Newman said. The earthquake occurred in September of 2012 as a magnitude 7.6 quake.

I don't see any reference to "imminent".

Re:Woo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45778151)

One of those Slashdot "have a ton of random links" stories... TFA is http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ngeo2038.html and the quote is:

"We also identify a previously locked part of the plate interface, located immediately offshore, that may not have slipped during the 2012 earthquake, where monitoring should continue."

Re:Woo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45780627)

Well, more like they took a "50-year quake" pattern and gave it a 40-year window, then when they were 32 years into that window, or 12 years 'overdue' they said 'lookout it should *really* be happening anytime now'.

ho ho ho merry fucking christmas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45777621)

you god damned kikes

forecast, not predict (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 10 months ago | (#45777961)

Forecasts are based on trend.

That is all.

Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45777979)

At this rate, it'll take 1000 years to gather enough sample data to determine if it was really a prediction. All they really did is take some statistical data (3 data points) and extrapolate that to the future with a very wide margin of error. Not sure if it's ultimately going to help.

like this one? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45778001)

http://www.technologyreview.com/view/421958/spacecraft-saw-ulf-radio-emissions-over-haiti-before-january-quake/

If they could pick the exact day... (2)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 10 months ago | (#45778061)

Some people [farmers.com] will still not evacuate.

Re:If they could pick the exact day... (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 10 months ago | (#45778313)

Some people will still not evacuate.

I find syrup of figs does the trick.

Re:If they could pick the exact day... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45781071)

Take it from an old fart.... prunes.

If that does not work, try two cans of Pringles Fat-Free potato chips. They are manufactured with Olestra.

It has worked every time for me, but due to the greasiness of the ejecta, it is difficult to properly clean the ejection orifice and keep it clean.

Useless (4, Insightful)

gaspyy (514539) | about 10 months ago | (#45778111)

This is beyond useless.

I live in a country with significant seismic activity.
We know for hundreds of years that every 30 to 50 years a big (7.6 - 7.8) earthquake will happen. We even know where the epicenter will be. We know how it will propagate.

It's been 36 years since the last one so many people who live in problem areas are beginning to get nervous. But we don't know when it will happen. Could be tomorrow or ten years from now.

Predicting Earthquakes Risk Being Exposed as Cause (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45778143)

HAARP and radio wave technology is alive and well, triggering earthquakes wherever that technology is aimed. Possibly be it either by happenstance or actual use of this technology as a weapon, it doesn't seem wise to be the one predicting earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, or weather these days unless its tactical or just arrogance.. who knows? WTF?

BFD ! I predict Southern California will have an. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45778327)

BFD ! I predict Southern California will have an 3.2 earthquake between the next 5 minutes and the next 3 years. Mark my words. Believe me as a SO Cal residetn I *want* someone of science to figure this out, but come on. What a load of Cxxp A Huntington Beach (So Cal resident all of my life). //GregH

still interesting (1)

Goldsmith (561202) | about 10 months ago | (#45779745)

I think what this post is really about is how rudimentary geoscience is compared to similar fields like oceanography, astronomy and epidemiology. If it's a major story to see that there's a 50 year pattern on earthquakes in a particular area, that's not so great.

Similar accurate predictions (1)

gman003 (1693318) | about 10 months ago | (#45779807)

In August 2001, a FEMA training session discussed the three most likely major natural disasters they would have to deal with in the next decade. They were a terrorist attack in New York, a hurricane hitting New Orleans, and an earthquake on the San Andreas line.

Two of those happened. But nobody is really surprised they were 66% accurate, because with timespans like this, 66% accuracy is trivial. A damn comedy website [cracked.com] managed to predict Fukushima to within 200km (they predicted a TEPCO-run reactor on the opposite side of Japan would be struck by an earthquake and tsunami).

Why? Because it turns out that when you look at the situation, the history and the statistics, it's pretty easy to predict the future as long as you don't give a strict time. Just look at science fiction, or even general fiction, to see how people who did their research were able to come up with scenarios plausible enough to actually happen.

Now, the difference here is supposedly that instead of looking at the history and statistics, they were looking at geological data. If they can improve on this technique to get even just a one-year timespan for an earthquake, that would be groundbreaking (pun totally intended). Or if they can use it to predict an earthquake where there isn't a history of earthquakes. As it is, it's useless, but hopefully they can improve it.

What?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45780035)

+/- 20 years isn't a prediction... it's a guesstimate.

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?