3
Apr
2004

SCIENTISTS PREDICT MAJOR SOCAL QUAKE WITH FIVE MONTHS

KTVU.com / Associated Press
April 1, 2004

http://www.ktvu.com/news/2968506/detail.html

LOS ANGELES -- A state earthquake council has given a qualified endorsement to a prediction by a group of scientists who believe that a temblor of magnitude-6.4 or greater will occur in the Southern California desert sometime in the next five months.

The California Earthquake Prediction Evaluation Council, a group of eight scientists selected by the state Office of Emergency Services, said it considers the new prediction by the scientists to be "a legitimate approach in earthquake prediction research."

Despite its support the panel noted in a report that "the physical basis for the prediction has not been substantiated."

The team of scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles, predict that a quake will occur within a 12,000-square-mile area east of Los Angeles by Sept. 5. The zone includes a large swath of the Mojave Desert, the Coachella Valley, the Imperial Valley and eastern San Diego County.

The area was the location of the magnitude-7.3 Landers earthquake in 1992 and the 7.1 Hector Mine quake in 1999.

The zone is so seismically active that the council noted in its report that the chances of an earthquake of at least magnitude-6.4 occurring randomly in the area sometime before the Sept. 5 deadline is about 10 percent.

The council concluded that the results do not warrant any special public policy actions in California. Such actions could include warnings to the public or alerts issued to utilities to help them prevent disruptions in service.

The scientists piqued interest after they forecast the magnitude-6.5 San Simeon quake in December and the magnitude-8.1 quake last year off Japan's Hokkaido island. In both cases, the group set wide parameters in place and time.

The team bases its predictions on long chains of small earthquakes recorded in the area.

"In the vicinity of each such chain, we look backward and see its history over the preceding years -- whether our candidate (for an earthquake) was preceded by certain seismicity patterns," said lead team scientist Vladimir Keilis-Borok. "If yes, we accept the candidate as a short-term precursor and start a nine-month alarm."


Informant: NHNE
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