Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

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Could we someday predict earthquakes?

New ways of looking at seismic information and innovative laboratory experiments are offering tantalizing clues to what triggers earthquakes—and when.
June 27, 2016
The author holds a cracked sample of acrylic used to study damage effects linked to faulting. Johnson hopes Laboratory research can lead to better forecasting of earthquakes someday. (Photo: LANL)

The author holds a cracked sample of acrylic used to study damage effects linked to faulting. Johnson hopes Laboratory research can lead to better forecasting of earthquakes someday. (Photo: Los Alamos National Lab)

Could we someday predict earthquakes?

by Paul Johnson

The only thing we know for sure about earthquakes is that one will happen again, somewhere on the planet, very soon. Earthquakes pose a vital yet puzzling set of research questions that have confounded scientists for decades, but new ways of looking at seismic information and innovative laboratory experiments are offering tantalizing clues to what triggers earthquakes—and when.

Millions of earthquakes shake the globe every year, the ground suddenly lurching in response to movements of the tectonic plates that form Earth’s crust. These plates jostle over, under, and against each other as they shift around the globe. All that shoving and grinding builds up stress along faults—fractures or breaks in the rock of the crust—until something has to give: an earthquake.

This story first appeared in Huffington Post.


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