100% Chance of an Earthquake

Science Center Objects

There's a 100 percent chance of an earthquake today.

map of Pacific Ocean with areas around the perimeter shaded

Volcanic arcs and oceanic trenches partly encircling the Pacific Basin form the so-called Ring of Fire, a zone of frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The trenches are shown in blue-green. The volcanic island arcs, although not labelled, are parallel to, and always landward of, the trenches. For example, the island arc associated with the Aleutian Trench is represented by the long chain of volcanoes that make up the Aleutian Islands. (Public domain.)

There's a 100 percent chance of an earthquake today. Though millions of persons may never experience an earthquake, they are very common occurrences on this planet. So today -- somewhere -- an earthquake will occur.

It may be so light that only sensitive instruments will perceive its motion; it may shake houses, rattle windows, and displace small objects; or it may be sufficiently strong to cause property damage, death, and injury. It is estimated that about 700 shocks each year have this capability when centered in a populated area. But fortunately, most of these potentially destructive earthquakes center in unpopulated areas far from civilization.

Since a major portion of the world's earthquakes each year center around the rim of the Pacific Ocean (Ring of Fire), referred to by seismologists as the circum-Pacific belt, this is the most probable location for today's earthquake. But it could hit any location, because no region is entirely free of earthquakes.

Stating that an earthquake is going to occur today is not really "predicting earthquakes". To date, they cannot be predicted. But anyone, on any day, could make this statement and it would be true. This is because several million earthquakes occur annually; thereby, thousands occur each day, although most are too small to be located. The problem, however, is in pinpointing the area where a strong shock will center and when it will occur.

Earthquake prediction may some day become a reality, but only after much more is learned about earthquakes.