New Tool for Predicting Earthquakes

June 20, 2011
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  Professor Shmuel Marco of Tel Aviv University at work
American Friends of TAU
Haiti earthquake destroyed the national palace in Port-Au-Prince
Photo by Zaka/Flash 90/israel21c

With this information, experts can better predict where and when earthquakes may occur again. “Current seismographical data on earthquakes only reaches back a century or so,” says Marco. Most earthquake activity takes place on a longer cycle, sometimes of several hundred years, so 100 years of information just isn’t enough for predictive purposes, he explains.

“Our new approach investigates wave patterns of heavy sediment that penetrate into the light sediments that lie directly on top of them [effectively seeing how lower levels of dirt and rock are thrust into the upper layer by an earthquake]. This helps us to understand the intensity of earthquakes in bygone eras.”

When and where the next big quake will hit is a question that has captured Marco’s attention. In his previous research on the history of earthquakes in the Middle East as a predictor of the future, Marco delved into hundreds of ancient manuscripts to determine that a series of major earthquakes hit the Jordan Valley over the past 2,000 years.

He told ISRAEL21c that an interval of about 400 years separated each significant earthquake until the last one, almost 1,000 years ago. This unusually long interval means that a great deal of tension has been building along the fault line, and may be released at any time in a potentially devastating earthquake in the region.

If danger zones can be pinpointed accurately beforehand, however, it can help engineers ensure that all new buildings in the vulnerable areas are quake proof, and that old ones are fortified accordingly.

Source: Excerpts of an article by www.israel21c.org

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