SCIENCE IN THE NEWS DAILY
Earthquakes in a Box
from ScienceNOW Daily News
As a first step toward predicting earthquakes, geophysicists are using computers to simulate the behavior of the world's most studied 25 kilometers of fault, the Parkfield segment of the San Andreas fault in central California. This storied bit of fault ruptures every 20 years on average in quakes of magnitude 6.0, causing minor damage in California cattle country and fascinating seismologists.
Now, researchers report that a relatively sophisticated model of the Parkfield segment can produce quakes that bear a striking resemblance to real ones. The simulations even suggest why the only official U.S. quake forecast ever made failed to get the timing of the latest Parkfield temblor right.
The trick to getting a computer to correctly forecast the time, place, and magnitude of a coming earthquake is giving a computer model's fault enough of the real fault's physical properties. To make their simulations reasonably realistic, geophysicists Sylvain Barbot, Nadia Lapusta, and Jean-Philippe Avouac of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena constructed a fault model based on both a century's worth of seismological theory and decades of Parkfield observations.
Subscribe to Our Content!
Visit our RSS Feeds page to choose among 13 customized feeds, or create a free My AmSci account to request an email notice whenever a specified author, department or discipline appears online.
A free daily summary of the latest news in scientific research. Each story is summarized concisely and linked directly to the original source for further reading.
An early peek at each new issue, with descriptions of feature articles, columns,
and more. Every other issue contains links to everything in the latest issue's table of contents.
News of book reviews published in
and around the web, as well as other noteworthy happenings in the world of science books.
To sign up for automatic emails of the
Update and Scientists' Nightstand issues, create an
online profile, then sign up in the
My AmSci area.
Science in the Media
Magazines and Web Sites:
The Science-Media Intersection: