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Suggest ways that earthquakes may be predicted. How successful has prediction been in recent years. Explain why earthquakes of similar magnitude may cause different amounts of damage according to location and historical context.

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  • Essay length: 1055 words
  • Submitted: 15/08/2003
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AS and A Level Hazardous Environments

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Suggest ways that earthquakes may be predicted. How successful has prediction been in recent years. Explain why earthquakes of similar magnitude may cause different amounts of damage according to location and historical context.

At 6:00 am on January 17, 1994, disaster struck southern California in the form of an earthquake that originated deep beneath the Santa Susana Mountains. Slippage occurred on a fault and the resulting earthquake damaged buildings and highways, ruptured gas lines, and created chaos in the largest metropolitan area in the western US. Every news organization had special reporters on the scene. Pictures of damage and fires as well as interviews with distraught victims formed a steady parade across television screens. Even the most jaded students were fascinated with the awesome power of the earth.

One of the greatest challenges to seismologists is to be able to predict earthquakes with enough precision to minimize loss of life and economic hardship. In an ideal world, we would know where all active faults lie, when they will rupture, and the magnitude of the next earthquake expected. Earthquake prediction is successful when it can routinely provide accurate information on time, location, and size of future earthquakes.

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