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New research mining data from a catalog of more than 1.8 million southern California earthquakes found that nearly three-fourths of the time, foreshocks signalled a quake's readiness to strike from days to weeks before the the mainshock hit, a revelation that could advance earthquake forecasting.
"We are progressing toward statistical forecasts, though not actual yes or no predictions, of earthquakes," said Daniel Trugman, a seismologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory and coauthor of a paper out today in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. "It's a little like the history of weather forecasting, where it has taken hundreds of years of steady progress to get where we are today."
Paper - Foreshock - Activity - Californa - Notes
The paper, titled "Pervasive foreshock activity across southern Californa," notes foreshocks preceded nearly 72 percent of the "mainshocks" studied (the largest quakes in a particular sequence), a percentage that is significantly higher than was previously understood.
Many of these foreshocks are so small, with magnitudes less than 1, that they are difficult to spot through visual analysis of seismic waveforms. To detect such small events requires advanced signal processing techniques and is a huge, data-intensive problem. Significant computing capabilities were key to extracting these new insights from the southern California Quake Template Matching...
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