Wednesday, May 21, 2008

NPR interview about aftershock prediction

NPR has an interview with Walter Mooney of the USGS about expectations for aftershocks of the Eastern Sichuan earthquake. It's a good explanation of what seismologists can predict (things like the size of aftershocks) and what they can't (the exact time of aftershocks). Mooney also talks about the stress changes that can trigger later earthquakes - science that's been developed in the nineteen years since I was in Loma Prieta (and heard Mooney, amongst other people, talk about what to expect).

All that knowledge doesn't help when villages are buried by landslides by the shaking, however. It sounds like the most difficult problem, as with natural hazards from California to Indonesia to New Orleans, is that there are a lot of people in the world, and most of them aren't able to choose a perfectly geologically stable place to live.

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