Can we predict earthquakes?
Although we cannot predict the exact timing of an earthquake and they can occur unexpectedly, we can undertake monitoring of seismic activity to try and determine where earthquakes are most likely to occur and to try and provide some sort of forecast to ensure preparations can be made where possible to try and minimise death and damage caused. This includes:
- using special instruments to measure / monitor possible earth movements (use of seismometers / seismographs)
- plotting the regularity of earthquakes to look for possible patterns
- mapping centers of earthquakes to indicate where earthquakes may be overdue and where pressure may be building up
- observing natural phenomena which can sometimes indicate the likelihood of earthquake activity (odd animal behaviour has been acknowledged)
There are many things that can be done to take precautions and prepare for the event of an earthquake in order to try and minimise any potential damage. These include..
- Monitoring ground movements - to identify possible seismic activity (as discussed above)
- Earthquake proof modern buildings - this may include reinforcement of foundations; counter-weights; and use of fireproof construction materials.
- Building Regulations - avoid building on unstable ground (such as landfill) to avoid liquefaction
- Practice Disaster Routines - annual earthquake drills - e.g. San Francisco - April 18th
- Automatic shut off switches - for gas mains - to try and minimise the likelihood of fire
- Public Education - public information posters / information on emergency procedures / preparing house / survival kits etc.
- Strengthen Routeways - strengthen foundations of bridges / suspended roadways etc.
- Emergency Service Planning - ensure emergency services (medical and rescue) are fully trained to cope with such a disaster and that specialist emergency equipment is available.
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