New Clues May Help Predict Earthquakes

Team detects seismic waves up to 10 hours before Calif. tremor
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 10, 2008 11:02 AM CDT
Researchers expect California to be rocked by earthquakes in the coming years; if they can be predicted, it might save lives.   (Getty Images (by Event) Individuals)
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(Newser) – Researchers could be closer to predicting earthquakes hours before they happen, with an article in the journal Nature detailing how scientists detected seismic changes in rocks as much as 10 hours before two small California temblors. “Hurricane [warnings] give you an idea of what could be done,” one researcher told the BBC of such a breakthrough—still perhaps years away in daily application.

The researchers drilled holes along the San Andreas Fault, lowering sensors that could measure the speed of seismic waves. The system was able to correctly predict two small quakes, detecting velocity changes beforehand—once two hours before the tremor, and once 10 hours prior.