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Science Technology

QuakeFinder: Is It Possible To Reliably Predict Earthquakes? 59

Posted by samzenpus
from the whole-lotta-shaking-going-on dept.
massivepanic writes "Unlike most natural disasters, earthquakes strike without warning. Between large quakes and resulting tsunamis, millions of lives have been lost because science has been unable to provide accurate, useful earthquake predictions. Stellar Solutions' QuakeFinder Division hopes it can develop the tools to dramatically reduce this loss of life. Its network of over 100 sophisticated sensor stations has detected patterns of electromagnetic pulses several days before a number of different earthquakes, moving the possibility of earthquake prediction closer to reality."
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QuakeFinder: Is It Possible To Reliably Predict Earthquakes?

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    no

    • Didn't we just get an articel yesterday about some species of ant whose behaviour reliably changes a day in advance of a magnitude 2 or greater quake? Obviously *something* is happeneing that they can detect, and if nothing else we might be able to transplant the ants to risk-prone areas and monitor their behavior. Better still if we could figure out what they're detecting and create our own sensor networks we might be able to improve detection rates and/or times even further.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It does not matter how reliable this technology is, I just hope they don't deploy it in Italy.

  • Yes.

    With any kind of accuracy? Mmmm. No.

    We are getting pretty good at predicting where they can happen, though.

    • by fermion (181285)
      On the US pacific coast they evidently have a system that can reliably provide warning for earthquakes, which is about the best we can hope for. Electrical signals travel faster than seismic waves, so in many cases there will be time to automatically prepare connected infrastructure. We are talking about the 30 seconds it takes to turn off devices that might cause damage, open emergency doors, sound a siren to give a few seconds notice to pull the car over. This is what other countries do, but I guess th
  • by goldspider (445116) <ardrake79 AT gmail DOT com> on Monday April 15, 2013 @02:01PM (#43454449) Homepage

    Oh, so this article submission is NOT a repeat from 1997?

  • Yay! Quake finder is making a comeback. This just makes my day, I've never been a fan of gamespy and find a good old fashioned game of legacy quake I on quakeworld or quakefinder just hasn't been the same. I mean it has been years since...{{rereads the summary}}

    Oh. Well. I'll just go in a corner and look for my quake I discs...
  • Red Wood Ants exhibit specific behaviour before earthquakes

    http://io9.com/can-ants-predict-earthquakes-472681784
    for example

    Apply webcam and simple pattern recognition algo and presto. ...Now off to read TFA
  • https://www.google.com/#safe=off&output=search&sclient=psy-ab&q=animals%20flee%20before%20earthquake&oq=&gs_l=&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_qf.&bvm=bv.45175338,d.cGE&fp=144025172efe81&biw=1155&bih=844&pf=p&pdl=300 [google.com]

    You will find some animals flee before earthquakes, some act peculiar, as in, will be afraid or seemingly barking for hours before they hit.

    I'm sure you wanted a more scientific answer, but sorry, while the scientist do great stuff, predicting shit that ha

    • You will find some animals flee before earthquakes, some act peculiar, as in, will be afraid or seemingly barking for hours before they hit.

      No you won't. You will find the opposite: Several have experiments have found no correlation between animal behavior and upcoming earthquakes. No experiments have found a correlation. There is a good summary here: Earthquake prediction - Animal behavior [wikipedia.org].

      This just an old wives tale based on a few anecdotes. There is no evidence that animals can predict earthquakes. How could they? Unless you believe that animals have some ESP that science isn't aware of, they would have to be relying on some sort of i

      • by Lord Crc (151920)

        This just an old wives tale based on a few anecdotes. There is no evidence that animals can predict earthquakes. How could they?

        The only conjecture I heard which didn't sound totally "out there" was that the animals sensed the changes in the electric field caused by the piezoelectric effect due to stress changes in the rocks before an earthquake.

        Something along those lines at least.

        • This just an old wives tale based on a few anecdotes. There is no evidence that animals can predict earthquakes. How could they?

          The only conjecture I heard which didn't sound totally "out there" was that the animals sensed the changes in the electric field caused by the piezoelectric effect due to stress changes in the rocks before an earthquake.

          Something along those lines at least.

          If this conjecture was true:
          1. We would be able to detect the electric field changes with instruments.
          2. Animals would respond to artificial experimental changes to the electric field. Fish do respond, but I haven't heard of them predicting earthquakes.
          3. Someone would have used animal behavior to actually predict an earthquake rather than just making after-the-fact statements.
          So while it is possible that an electric field is involved, Occam's Razor [wikipedia.org] says that it is all a bunch of nonsense.

          • by MickLinux (579158)

            1. We can. google Earthquake lights. Light is a valid member of the electromagnetic spectrum. or be lazy, and try this link:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y196J86YrRU [youtube.com]

            2. Animals do respond to various electromagnetic changes. That doesn't mean that animals that are good earthquake predictors are necessarily responding to those changes-- there are many others that they could be responding to others. There are noises, gas releases, earthquake clouds, and other such signs of an imminent (read ongoing, but not

            • 1. We can. google Earthquake lights.

              No we can't. Earthquake lights [wikipedia.org] have only been observed while the earthquake is occuring. Claiming they can predict earthquakes is like saying that violent shaking of the ground can predict earthquakes.

              • by MickLinux (579158)

                The holy grail of earthquake prediction is not predicting what will happen next year: it is predicting when one is already coming with enough warning to save lives.

                In another post on this story, I noted that prediction is about forecasting what is actually an already-occurring event, that we just haven't noticed yet.

                In line with that, the proposed California early-warning system is a very feasible plan, just way too expensive for my taste.

                • it is predicting when one is already coming with enough warning to save lives.

                  Do you know what the prefix pre means? It means before, and dict means say. It's therefore logically impossible to predict (say before) something which is already happening.

                  That would be condicting, which doesn't even exist.

                  • by MickLinux (579158)

                    Let me ask you: if you have an otto cycle engine rigged up with all kinds of sensors, and you start it up and run it for 40 minute under constant load, can you predict the characteristics of the next full cycle?

                    You can, though it hasn't happened yet, because the process isealready underway. In the same way, the earthquakes that accompany a volcanic eruption are absolutely predictable, even though --and because--the process is already underway. For example, if you see that the depth of certain shocks is dec

    • Actually, "predicting shit that happens" is the only thing that scientists do. The problem is, the prediction must be based on models that are in turn based on measurable and reproducible observations. This means that your anecdotal "animals flee before earthquake" is out, unless you can prove that a certain species will exhibit a certain measurable behavior (i.e. "flee", but how far? Do they flee in the direction of the epicenter or away from it?) with a given certainty at a certain time-point before the q

      • by Alomex (148003)

        And you'll have to show that there is not only just a correlation, but also that the animal exhibits the behavior because of the earthquake itself.

        You are wrong. If all you are trying to do is predict earthquakes correlation is enough. Just like the "canary-in-the-coal-mine" was an effective way to measure CO2 and/or methane levels even if we didn't quite understand the mechanisms by which it works from the get go.

        • Well, you got me. I'm a theoretician. Of course you start with the correlation, but I like getting to the bottom of things, if I can.

      • i.e. "flee", but how far? Do they flee in the direction of the epicenter or away from it?

        My understanding is that flee sort of implies away, but I could be wrong. Perhaps that's what happened to the dinosaurs.

  • The OP failed to offer any support for the position that those "millions of lives" should be saved.
  • It's possible. That's why six scientists were jailed for manslaughter after failing to predict an earthquake.
    http://edition.cnn.com/2012/10/23/world/europe/italy-quake-scientists-guilty [cnn.com]

    • by Robotbeat (461248)

      That Italian court is such utter /bullshit/. What is the motivation to enter seismology studying earthquake prediction? Great pay? Nope. Recognition? Not really (no Nobel Prizes), at least not the kind you'd want. And with austerity, you're not going to get stable employment, either. When scientists are crucified for not being exactly right, all there is is downside, the risk of being accused of manslaughter if you say what you think. Congratulations, Italy, you might as well be in the Middle Ages.

      I'd under

      • by MickLinux (579158)

        My memory was that their offense was --for economic reasons--silencing a scientist who was publishing that suddenly increased rates of radon release in the region indicated the probability of a large quake in the near future.

        Oh, and the scientists who were charged were those who had the specific job of earthquake preparedness.

        That said, I suspect a major part of their fault was not in caring too much about tourist dollars, but rather in their knee-jerk reaction that earthquakes can't be predicted, therefore

    • by idontgno (624372)

      And we have the answer: Darwinian Reduction.

      Every scientist is obligated (at gunpoint if necessary... lives are at stake here!) to predict the next earthquake. Time, place, and intensity.

      All the ones who predict incorrectly are imprisoned.

      Repeat with all the remaining ones.

      I figure after two or three rounds you'll have some damn good earthquake predictors out and about. Keep them close and remind them periodically about their former colleagues entertaining "Bubbah" back in the klink, by way of encouragement

    • ENOUGH WITH THIS BULLSHIT! Even though *i dissent with the sentence* i must clarify that they have been charged for clearly stating that the situation was OK, that people should stay at home and that people should just ignore those pesky FORESHOCKS that lasted for MONTHS with INCREASING magnitude. I was fucking THERE at the time (well... not exactly there as i knew that we were in for quite a ride). Enough with this disinformation.
    • It's possible. That's why six scientists were jailed for manslaughter after failing to predict an earthquake. http://edition.cnn.com/2012/10/23/world/europe/italy-quake-scientists-guilty [cnn.com]

      They did not go to jail because they failed to predict an earthquake. They went to jail because they stated there would not be an earthquake in order to discredit somebody who claimed he had a system for predicting earthquakes. If they had stuck to procedure and official press releases, they'd have been fine and some quack would have a following and some new time, but they wanted to discredit the other guy so much they held and unofficial news conference. While starting off ok, they quickly devolved into ma

  • Unwise ideas... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hahn (101816) on Monday April 15, 2013 @02:21PM (#43454613) Homepage
    The Italian government is convinced you can.

    I wouldn't ever claim to be able to accurately predict earthquakes even if I knew I could. To do so is to also claim responsibility.
  • by FuzzNugget (2840687) on Monday April 15, 2013 @02:25PM (#43454655)
  • by Bengie (1121981)
    QuakeSpy was great at finding Quake servers.
  • According to Nate Silver in The Signal and the Noise, earthquake prediction has a long history of failure. Unlike weather, there is not much understanding or useful data. Many have claimed otherwise, but when applied to the future, their models failed.
  • Way to many parameters.

    People still need to do tests to see when a glue breaks and it breaks at different moments. That is just a simple cable that was made by a factory under reasonably controlled circumstances with a specifically know amount of glue with many known parameters.

    And you want to know when it happens with many unknown parameters and a vastly huge area? Nope. Not possible.

  • Did anyone else read "quakefinder" and think something else.

    like discovering network multiplayer games of one of the more popular trilogies of first person shooters?
  • piezoelectricity from the friction & pressure?

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