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Fifty years ago, scientists were looking for ways to predict earthquakes

Well notices – Science News, October 10, 1970

Seismologists study ways to predict the occurrence of earthquakes … One possibility … is to control groundwater pressures … Fluctuations in the production rates of oil, gas and water wells are often associated with earthquakes and sometimes precede to them soon to give some warning.


It is not yet possible to predict when or where the earthquakes will occur. But hazard models can estimate the likelihood of an earthquake shaking an area in a given period of time. Scientists now know that the injection of wastewater can cause earthquakes and account for these groundwater fluids in hazard models.

When an earthquake occurs, modern early warning systems can help people prepare to shake. These systems use seismic sensor readings to measure when surrounding areas will begin to shake, offering seconds to minutes of advance warning (SN: 4/4/14). The first U.S. public system began sending alerts to Californians in 2019. Deployment to other earthquake-prone states has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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