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Is Earthquake Prediction Impossible or Inevitable?

Is Earthquake Prediction Impossible or Inevitable?
Nicholas George looks under a buckled highway just outside of Napa, California, after an earthquake struck the area in the early hours of August 24, 2014. (Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)

By Thursday, 23 March 2017 01:03 PM Current | Bio | Archive

A sea-change is taking place on the West Coast, one that is long overdue. For the last century, at least, the “earthquake prediction is impossible” mantra has been repeated with such supposed surety that no convincing explanations as to how and why this problem should remain eternally insoluble were required.

However, in the decades that passed while the foregone conclusion about the hopelessness of earthquake prediction remained unchallenged, mankind was nonetheless achieving exponentially more astounding and seemingly unattainable accomplishments: sending crafts beyond the heliopause on their way toward interstellar space, cataloguing the three billion base pairs of the human genome, and transplanting organs with such success that medicine now regards these procedures as mundane and commonplace. Even more bizarrely, the “impossibility” platitude has only held true on our side of the International Date Line, while China, Russia, Japan, India, and other seismically active nations have long ago dedicated organs of their federal governments to the business of seismic forecasting — China having taken that rational step half a century ago. Critical mass may finally have been reached in America though, the nation lately seeming to wake from a self-imposed slumber concerning this important matter, and it’s not hard to understand how that has occurred.

There are thousands of researchers in hundreds of the most prestigious institutions around the world currently examining at least a dozen promising seismic precursors which may lead to the first steps toward a rudimentary seismic warning system. The studies include a wide range of ground-based and space-based methods — from monitoring high-energy particle bursts in the ionosphere to “slow-slip” earthquakes deep below the Cascadia Fault Zone in the Pacific Northwest. The idea that mind-boggling eruptions of seismic energy should manage to build up and explode without giving the slightest prior indication for 21st century human observers is highly implausible. That would imply that scientists who are sufficiently sharp-eyed to detect exoplanets in neighboring solar systems, photograph atoms, count the billion and one particles of matter for every billion motes of anti-matter that existed fourteen billion years ago when our universe was less than a second old, should be inexpert about what is transpiring beneath their feet. To the contrary, there is every manner of investigation now impinging upon the fault lines of the world — measuring changes in electrical conductivity, fluctuations in P-Wave/S-Wave velocity differentials, geohydrochemical venting, abrupt water table variations, etc. The author has been privileged to bring the work of some of these world-class scientists to the attention of a wide audience (see bio below). The very least we owe these esteemed physicists and seismologists is to send the “earthquake prediction is impossible” canard into the same dustpan of history in which “if God had wanted man to fly He’d have given him wings” was discarded. There’s good reason to do that once and for all — and now.

A major league seismic event is on the very near horizon in Southern California. Seismologists all over the world are in agreement that an 8.0 ± earthquake on the southern San Andreas cannot be far into the future. This earthquake will not only be a watershed in Californian history and culture, but ripples from such an occurrence will be felt by every American. While Herculean tasks have been accomplished in transforming Greater Los Angeles into a metropolitan area very prepared to take a major blow and still remain standing, there is no greater weapon in any enemy’s arsenal than that of surprise. To have some measure of warning, to possess even rough probabilities of when the “Big One” might strike, to deprive the San Andreas or some ancillary fault of that advantage could — and would — make a difference. I’ve delivered evidence to the most respected news fonts, scientific bodies, and government authorities on Earth concerning the potential to highlight those “higher probability windows” for increased seismic activity; they may indeed exist. In future articles they’ll be discussed in detail and the simple proofs placed before the readership of Newsmax.

Earthquake prediction isn’t impossible; nothing is for the human race. Mankind has faced down far greater foes than the San Andreas, and been bested by none of them. The bubonic plague depopulated whole continents in its time, yet is to be found now on the verge of extinction, hiding from our antibiotics, infecting the odd rodent here and there on the Eurasian steppes. It’s much the same story for smallpox, polio, and a lengthy list of former terrors that have long since been forced to submit to a clan of gutsy anthropoids who might get knocked down from time to time, but who always struggle back to their feet, swinging hard enough to defeat any opponent foolish enough to climb into the ring. The smart money, in the end, isn’t on the San Andreas, it’s on…us.

David Nabhan is a science writer, the author of "Earthquake Prediction: Dawn of the New Seismology" (2017) and three previous books on earthquakes. Nabhan is also a science fiction writer ("Pilots of Borealis," 2015) and the author of many scores of newspaper and magazine op-eds. Nabhan has been featured on television and talk radio all over the world. His website is www.earthquakepredictors.com. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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Earthquake prediction isn’t impossible; nothing is for the human race.
earthquake, prediction, san andreas
Thursday, 23 March 2017 01:03 PM
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