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School on lithosphere dynamics

Predicting when the next earthquake will strike

Can earthquakes be predicted? Yes, according to scientists coordinating the "Advanced school on non-linear dynamics and earthquake prediction", held at ICTP from 28 September until 10 October, and they have a remarkable prediction success rate to prove it.  How they make those predictions is the topic of the school, which includes lectures on the lithosphere as a complex system, numerical models, and algorithms for earthquake predictions.

According to V. I. Keilis-Borok of Moscow's International Institute of Earthquake Prediction Theory and Mathematical Geophysics and a director of the school, the first confirmed earthquake prediction was made by colleague V. G. Kossobokov at the Trieste school held in 1988. "Since then, scientists have been able to predict 11 of 16 earthquakes measuring magnitude 8 or higher," he said. The Moscow institute's predictions are updated every six months and posted on a website for scientists and emergency managers.

Keilis-Borok explained that scientists make earthquake predictions by combining theory of cause with data analysis of specific phenomena. "We look at how small earthquakes behave to predict when a larger one will happen," he said.

The school's co-directors are G. F. Panza of ICTP's Structure and Non-Linear Dynamics of the Earth section, and A. A. Soloviev, a colleague of Keilis-Borok's in Moscow. For more details about the school, visit its website.


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