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Predicting Earthquakes A Scientific and Technical Evaluation — with Implications for Society Panel on Earthquake Prediction of the . Committee on Seismology 1 Assembly of Mathematical and Physical Sciences National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES NAS'NAE Washington, D.C. July 1976 JUL261976 LIBRARY

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c. NOTICE The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the Councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the Committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. ii

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PREFACE In early 1976, more than 23,000 lives were lost in a major earth- quake in Guatemala. Fault breakage occurred along a 200-kilometer segment of a major fault that is similar in many ways to the San Andreas Fault of California. Most of the casualties resulted from collapse of non-earthquake-resistant dwellings. A timely warning of the impending earthquake, advising residents to go out-of-doors and remain there until the quake was over, would undoubtedly have saved the lives of most of those killed and prevented tens of thousands of injuries. The purpose of this report is to evaluate the current state-of-the- art in earthquake prediction and to assess the outlook for the future. Throughout the history of man, earthquake predictions have been the focus of folklore, myth, sorcery, and even charlatanism. It is not un- expected, therefore, that the current interest in prediction as a subject for serious research has been met with considerable scientific and public skepticism. Even today, seismologists disagree about the validity of a number of the claims of successful scientific earthquake predictions, and express widely varying degrees of optimism concerning the outlook for the future. It was in this context that the Committee on Seismology formed the Panel on Earthquake Prediction, to advise government officials, scientists, and citizens in earthquake-threatened regions about our capability in earthquake prediction—insofar as scientific opinion in this field can now be summarized and evaluated. The Panel included scientists of a wide spectrum of viewpoints and prejudices concerning the subject prior to starting their discussion, but it is fair to say that even the most anti-prediction Panel members became more optimistic concerning our earthquake-prediction capabilities during the course of the Panel's deliberations. The Panel is convinced that a critical technical evaluation of earth- quake prediction—solely on the basis of its scientific merit and promise—is a necessary first step. The report presents this scientific and technical evaluation, although problems of justification, funding, and planning cannot be completely separated and are considered briefly herein. Four recommendations are included whose urgency is such that they should not wait for further studies. Clarence R. Allen, Chairman Panel on Earthquake Prediction Committee on Seismology iii

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This study was performed by the Panel on Earthquake Prediction of the Committee on Seismology in the National Research Council's Assembly of Mathematical and Physical Sciences. The work of the Committee is sup- ported by the Advanced Research Projects Agency; National Science Foundation, RANN; U.S. Geological Survey; National Oceanic and Atmo- spheric Administration; National Aeronautics and Space Administration; National Science Foundation, Earth Sciences Section; U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the U.S. Energy Research and Development Administration. The Panel wishes to express its appreciation for the interest and support of these agencies. During the course of the study the Panel worked in coordination with the Panel on Public Policy Implications of Earthquake Prediction of the National Research Council's Advisory Committee on Emergency Planning. xv

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COMMITTEE ON SEISMOLOGY Don L. Anderson, California Institute of Technology, Chairman Ray W. Clough, University of California at Berkeley Lloyd S. Cluff, Woodward-Clyde Consultants E. R. Engdahl, University of Colorado John I. Swing, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution J. Freeman Gilbert, University of California, San Diego at La Jolla Lane R. Johnson, University of California at Berkeley Sidney Kaufman, Cornell University Carl Kisslinger, University of Colorado Robert P. Meyer, University of Wisconsin Amos M. Nur, Stanford University M. Nafi Toksbz, Massachusetts Insitute of Technology Liaison Members William J. Best, U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research Edward A. Flinn, National Aeronautics and Space Administration Robert M. Hamilton, U.S. Geological Survey Roy E. Hanson, National Science Foundation Jerry Harbour, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission George A. Kolstad, U.S. Energy Research and Development Administration James F. Lander, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Carl F. Romney, Advanced Research Projects Agency John B. Scalzi, National Science Foundation Joseph W. Siry, National Aeronautics and Space Administration Robert E. Wallace, U.S. Geological Survey Staff Joseph W. Berg, Jr., Executive Secretary Albert N. Bove, Staff Officer

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PANEL ON EARTHQUAKE PREDICTION Clarence R. Allen, California Institute of Technology, Chairman Ward Edwards, University of Southern California William J. Hall, University of Illinois Leon Knopoff, University of California at Los Angeles C. Barry Raleigh, U.S. Geological Survey Carl H. Savit, Western Geophysical Company Lynn R. Sykes, Columbia University M. Nafi Toksoz, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Ralph H. Turner, University of California at Los Angeles, ex officio Staff Joseph W. Berg, Jr., Executive Secretary Albert N. Bove, Staff Officer vi

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CONTENTS Summary l Recommendations 3 Introduction 5 What Constitutes an Earthquake Prediction? 7 Methods of Attempting Prediction 9 Statistical Methods/9 Geophysical Methods/l2 Current Capability for Earthquake Prediction in the United States l5 History of the U.S. Prediction Effort/l5 Observational Capability/l6 Laboratory Studies/l8 Modeling of Earthquake Phenomena/l9 Some Problems and Deficiencies/22 Current Support and Distribution of Effort 24 Social Implications 27 Outlook for the Future 3l Selected References 35 Appendix A. Earthquake-Prediction Research in the United States, M. Nafi Toksbz 37 Appendix B. Earthquake-Prediction Research Outside the United States, Lynn R. Sykes 5l vII