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"Seizing" Up the Quake: The Prediction



"Seizing" Up the Quake: The Prediction
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 7 to 9
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   8.96

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    earthquake-free, Seising, seismologists, seismic, probability, strains, magnitude, effective, fracture, occurrence, influence, geologists, actual, anybody, laboratory, conduct
     content words:    United States Geological Survey, Rattle County, San Andreas, Parkfield Earthquake Prediction Experiment


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"Seizing" Up the Quake: The Prediction
By Trista L. Pollard
  

1     It starts with a thud and ends with the ground rolling beneath you. Anybody who has experienced an earthquake will tell you how it starts does not matter. You never forget the actual quake. Seismologists and geologists, however, take great interest in how earthquakes begin. Why you ask? It is the prediction of earthquakes that can help save lives and millions of dollars in property damage.
 
2     When seismologists try to predict earthquakes, their goal is to produce a warning system. If scientists can develop accurate and early warning systems, then people would be able to respond quickly. So who are the scientists who research future earthquakes? The United States Geological Survey (USGS) carries out research and supports other researchers who focus on the occurrence of future earthquakes. Scientists with this group conduct field and laboratory studies of earthquakes and fault zones. Their goal is to improve the probability estimates of earthquakes. To estimate earthquake probabilities, seismologists study the history of large earthquakes in specific areas. They also study the rate of strain or stress that accumulates along the fault zones.
 
3     Seismologists and geologists study the past frequency of large earthquakes. They can then use this information to predict the probability of similar large quakes in the future. Let us say that Rattle County, California, had four earthquakes that were magnitude 7.0 or higher during the last 200 years. If these earthquakes occurred randomly, scientists might say there is a 50% chance of another magnitude 7.0 quake during the next 50 years. However, other factors can influence the prediction of future earthquakes.

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