Earthquakes: is it possible to predict them?

The latest findings on forecasting and prevention, how to predict and counter an earthquake event

How many times have we asked ourselves this question: is it possible to predict an earthquake? Is there any system or method to stop such events? There are various tools to predict some dramatic event and there are also some precautions that can be taken to reduce a particular problem. However, nothing is perfect.

Earthquakes are triggered by the movement of the earth’s plates, sometimes to extreme depths. The consequences of these movements can occur even many kilometres away from the event, with dramatic consequences. An earthquake can also cause tsunamis and tidal waves. But these movements are never immediate – they are often preceded by what are called seismic swarms or other small tremors that are present in other parts of the world.

In the last year, more than 5,000 people have lost their lives in an earthquake.

Despite the intervention of the fire brigade with even the best special four-wheel-drive vehicles, it is still difficult to reach certain places after structures and buildings have collapsed. The intervention of HEMS units in other situations may be necessary, but these are all measures that serve to contain the damage and save lives once the damage has already occurred.

Recently, a French study concluded that it is possible to determine whether an earthquake will happen or not: it is all simply a matter of using a particular GPS system that can indicate whether a slab is moving. This study has raised many doubts worldwide, however, leading other experts to express a negative opinion, who believe that the delay is too great anyway and that using a simple GPS cannot draw the same more refined conclusions as a state-of-the-art seismograph. The latter can indeed indicate the arrival of an earthquake, but only if it is analysed in time. If the disaster happens directly at a precise location, it can only indicate its magnitude and thus put all the police and volunteer units on the alert.

So there is currently no real system for predicting earthquakes. It is possible to limit the damage if the right protections are put in place some time in advance, but it is still something that must be considered months in advance. Therefore, an earthquake is currently a force of nature that is difficult to predict and contain, but not impossible to counteract.

You might also like