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SUMMARY The members of the Panel on Earthquake Prediction have reviewed the major research efforts in earthquake prediction by investigators of all countries. The following statements summarize the Panel's views. l. Earthquake prediction holds great potential for saving lives, reducing property damage, enhancing the safety of critical facilities, and helping make possible more-rapid restoration of normal living after an earthquake. 2. Anomalous physical phenomena precursory to some earthquakes have been clearly identified. 3. The physical nature of precursory phenomena is complex, and cur- rent models to explain them are crude; improvement of these models will require considerable effort in the field and laboratory, as well as in theoretical studies. 4. Some small earthquakes have been predicted in a scientifically credible way, and most researchers are optimistic that we will eventually be successful in predicting larger earthquakes as well. 5. Of about ten types of recognizable phenomena thought to be pre- cursory to earthquakes, some may, in fact, be due to other causes and yield false alarms. Successful routine prediction will probably require the use of several techniques. 6. At present, the ability to detect and locate an impending earth- quake requires a dense distribution of instruments in the quake area. Improved observational networks in areas of high earthquake probability are mandatory if we are to gain the fundamental knowledge on which to build an effective earthquake-prediction program. 7. Predictions of earthquakes should specify time, magnitude, place, and probability. However, even a statement that does not specify time or magnitude, or a statement that an earthquake will not occur in a particular place or at a particular time, would be beneficial. 8. Neither the present state-of-the-art nor the present distribution of instrumentation permits socially useful predictions on a routine basis. Therefore, at this time, an expression such as "area of inten- sive study," as used in Japan (See Appendix B), might reflect more accurately the confidence level of interpretations of the observed phenomena in some areas than would an actual prediction.
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9. A scientific prediction will probably be made within the next five years for an earthquake of magnitude 5 or greater in California. With appropriate commitment, the routine announcement of reliable pre- dictions may be possible within l0 years in well instrumented areas, although large earthquakes may present a particularly difficult problem. The apparent public impression that routine prediction of earthquakes is imminent is not warranted by the present level of scientific under- standing. l0. Until formal procedures for issuing predictions have been established, predictions made by responsible scientists should be accom- panied by sufficient backup data for full evaluation by the scientific community. ll. During the development of an earthquake-prediction-and-warning capability, there will be unavoidable errors and false alarms. The public must be made aware of this prospect, and the development of any procedure to issue warnings must accommodate it. Even the ultimate system probably will not be infallible. l2. The rate of development of a reliable earthquake-prediction capability operating on a routine basis will depend to a large extent on the amount, rate, and deployment of funding. Progress in improving the state-of-the-art in the early growth period will be particularly sensitive to the level of support. The Panel believes that an effective program will require a l0-year commitment of effort, and that a large increase to several times the current annual Federal expenditures would be cost effective and would be in the national interest. l3. The scientific and technical aspects of earthquake prediction have advanced to the point at which the development of systems for associated societal response should be addressed promptly in a formal manner. A prediction capability will be of little value if societal response procedures are not formulated concurrently. l4. In a realistic attack on the earthquake-hazard problem, the development of an earthquake-prediction program and the upgrading of earthquake-engineering design and construction are complementary and equally necessary, and should be carried on at the same time.