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CURRENT SUPPORT AND DISTRIBUTION OF EFFORT Japan, the USSR, and the People's Republic of China have major programs of earthquake prediction and hazards reduction. As discussed elsewhere in this report, an extensive program of earthquake prediction was ini- tiated in China in l966. Although it is difficult to measure the level of effort in China in terms of dollars, members of the U.S. Seismologi- cal Delegation who visited China in October l974 estimate that the Chinese are making an effort with a value equivalent of $l00 million a year specifically for earthquake prediction. Similarly, a very large effort under way in the USSR appears to involve a major commitment by the seismological community. The Soviet effort in earthquake prediction appears to be considerably larger than that in the United States, al- though it probably is not as large as the commitment in China. Support for earthquake prediction in Japan is about the same as in the United States, but a comparison is difficult to make because the costs of specific items of equipment and materials are less in Japan. About $4 million were allocated by the Japanese government in l975 for earthquake- prediction research, not including salaries, overhead, and many other expenses that would bring the total current effort to about $l0 million a year. During FY l976, about $l0-ll million were spent by the United States Government for research in earthquake prediction and its social impli- cations (see Table l). Some of this money was spent on research in engineering seismology, however, only a part of which is related to earthquake prediction. To put these expenditures into perspective—it has been estimated that a great earthquake today, such as the l906 San Francisco earth- quake or the great earthquake on the San Andreas Fault near Los Angeles in l857, could claim more than l0,000 lives and cause damage exceeding $l0 billion. The apparently successful prediction of a major earthquake (magnitude 7.5) that occurred in northeastern China on February 4, l975, may have saved thousands of lives. It is our understanding that, as a result of this prediction and its timely social implementation, most people in this densely populated region went out-of-doors shortly before the earthquake and remained there until the danger was over. It seems clear from this example that a truly effective program of earthquake prediction 24
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25 TABLE l FY l976 Budget Related to Earthquake Prediction* National Science Foundation - RANN $l,700,000 National Science Foundation - Earth Sciences 2,552,000 U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission 85,000 U.S. Geological Survey 5,000,000 National Aeronautics and Space Administration l,300,000 $l0,637,000 *Based on information provided by the above agencies. and hazard reduction in the United States could well also result in a great reduction in the loss of lives in future large earthquakes and in substantial reduction of property loss. As noted elsewhere in this report, such a program would require an increase to several times the current annual funding for prediction research. The U.S. Geological Survey has been designated as the lead agency for the federal earthquake-hazards-reduction program, and it has devel- oped both in-house research and external contracts programs to carry out this mission. During the first year of its external grants program (FY l975), the Survey awarded about $2 million to universities, private industry, and state geological surveys. Proposals for support totaling more than $l3 million were submitted to the Survey, and members of the review panel judged at least $7 million worth of this proposed research to be of very substantial potential value. Despite this, a large portion of the $2 million of external funding was, necessarily, used for the operation of seismological nets required to obtain basic infor- mation relevant to earthquake prediction. Very little remained for the development of new technology, the support of basic research on earth- quake precursors, stress measurements, or laboratory and theoretical studies in earthquake prediction. Ten years ago, about two thirds of the total U.S. research effort in seismology, exclusive of petroleum exploration, was centered in the universities. Support of university research led to major breakthroughs in the detection of underground nuclear explosions and in discriminating them from earthquakes, in the formulation of some of the basic ideas of plate tectonics, which have revolutionized the earth sciences, and in development of an understanding of processes such as dilatancy, which have been crucial to modern theories of earthquake precursors. Similar- ly, scientists working in some of the research laboratories of major petroleum companies have developed important insights into the physical properties of rocks and porous media. Basic research in these labora- tories and the universities contributed greatly to the development of the "Bright Spot" method for the direct detection of buried hydrocarbons
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26 by seismic methods. It is critically important to ensure that the wide variety of expertise available in the United States in universities, industry, and various federal and state agencies be used effectively in attacking the earthquake-prediction problem. To concentrate too much of the effort in any one agency or group would be to fail to take full advantage of the resources and diversity of viewpoints available.