Lots of people talk about predicting earthquakes. Here’s the science. Why should we be in interested in earthquake prediction? Because we live in a bad neighborhood: there has been a tsunamigenic earthquake every year, except 2008, since 2004 in the Sunda Trench. Until the prediction issue is resolved all we can do is focus on warning and preparedness.
Scientists have been chasing earthquake prediction — the holy grail of earthquake science — for decades. In the 1970s American seismologists declared that the goal was reachable. Yet we have little to no real progress to show for our efforts. We have a good understanding of the planet’s active earthquake zones. We’re pretty good at forecasting the long-term rates of earthquakes in different areas. But prediction per se, which involves specifying usefully narrow windows in time, location and magnitude, has eluded us.