Can animals predict earthquakes?
The earliest reference we have to unusual animal behavior prior to a significant earthquake is from Greece in 373 BC. Rats, weasels, snakes, and centipedes reportedly left their homes and headed for safety several days before a destructive earthquake. Anecdotal evidence abounds of animals, fish, birds, reptiles, and insects exhibiting strange behavior anywhere from weeks to seconds before an earthquake. However, consistent and reliable behavior prior to seismic events, and a mechanism explaining how it could work, still eludes us. Most, but not all, scientists pursuing this mystery are in China or Japan.
An earthquake forecast was made in China several decades ago, based on small earthquakes and unusual animal activity. Many people chose to sleep outside of their homes and thus were spared when the main earthquake indeed occurred and caused widespread destruction. However, usually no large earthquake follows this type of seismic activity, and, unfortunately, many earthquakes are preceded by no precursory events whatsoever. The next large Chinese event was entirely unheralded and scores of thousands of Chinese died.
Solar flares and magnetic storms belong to a set of phenomena known collectively as "space weather". Technological systems and the activities of modern civilization can be affected by changing space-weather conditions. However, it has never been demonstrated that there is a causal relationship between space weather and...Read Full Answer
No, California is not going to fall into the ocean. California is firmly planted on the top of the earth’s crust in a location where it spans two tectonic plates. The San Andreas Fault System, which crosses California from the Salton Sea in the south to Cape Mendocino in the north, is the boundary between the Pacific Plate...Read Full Answer
In the 4th Century B.C., Aristotle proposed that earthquakes were caused by winds trapped in subterranean caves. Small tremors were thought to have been caused by air pushing on the cavern roofs, and large ones by the air breaking the surface. This theory lead to a belief in earthquake weather, that because a large amount...Read Full Answer
No, earthquakes of magnitude 10 or larger cannot happen. The magnitude of an earthquake is related to the length of the fault on which it occurs. That is, the longer the fault, the larger the earthquake. A fault is a break in the rocks that make up the Earth's crust, along which rocks on either side have moved past each...Read Full Answer
No. Neither the USGS nor any other scientists have ever predicted a major earthquake. We do not know how, and we do not expect to know how any time in the foreseeable future. An earthquake prediction must define 3 elements: 1) the date and time, 2) the location, and 3) the magnitude.
Yes, some people...Read Full Answer
Electromagnetic variations have been observed after earthquakes, but despite decades of work, there is no convincing evidence of electromagnetic precursors to earthquakes. It is worth acknowledging that geophysicists would actually love to demonstrate the reality of such precursors, especially if they could be used for...Read Full Answer
New USGS maps identify potential ground-shaking hazards in 2017 from both human-induced and natural earthquakes in the central and eastern U.S.
New Audiences, New Products for the National Seismic Hazard Maps
Throughout California April is recognized as Earthquake Preparedness Month. This Thursday's lecture, "Predictable Earthquakes", will provide an update on the current ability of scientists to predict potentially destructive earthquakes and to separate fact from fiction from this intriguing topic.
Dog trainer stands with scent-detection canine at Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge
Insights gained from research on mule deer migration could alert managers to when animal movements are threatened by land-use changes.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service vessel Tiglax off of Kasatochi Island, Alaska, as seen through a flock of Crested Auklets.
Aerial photo of the San Andreas Fault in the Carrizo Plain. By Ikluft - Own work, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3106006
Seismographs at the U.S. Geological Survey record (1) north-south horizontal, (2) east-west horizontal, and (3) vertical components of the earthquake.
A prairie dog stands on alert. The USGS National Wildlife Health Center works to identify, track, and prevent wildlife disease. Better protection of prairie dogs against plague would minimize the risk of disease transfer to endangered black-footed ferrets, aid in prairie dog conservation, and protect public health.