• Question: Is it possible to predict the exact time and place that a earthquake or a natural disaster could happen?

    Asked by mvenkataraman to Drew, Julia, Amy, Kimberley, Sara on 21 Jun 2011. This question was also asked by bubblez13, jberg, emilyjordan, tfry.
    • Photo: Drew Rae

      Drew Rae answered on 17 Jun 2011:

      Definitely not for earthquakes. They can predict the locations that are likely to get bad earthquakes based on where the fault-lines are, but they can’t predict the timing at all.

      Volcanoes can give early warning signs, but only by 24 to 48 hours.

      Typhoons and hurricanes often you can see them coming. You get false alarms, because you’re never sure exactly where they will cross the coast, or whether they will fade or change direction before they reach the coast. You can predict the places in most danger based on how close they are to sea level, and whether they are on an exposed coastline.

    • Photo: Sara Imari Walker

      Sara Imari Walker answered on 20 Jun 2011:

      Hello mvenkataraman, jberg, and bubblez! No, its not really possible. And, Drew’s got the reason most major ones aren’t covered. One thing to add – although we can’t predict earthquakes, we can predict the resultant tsunamis once the earthquake has happened. The window is really short though, sometimes just minutes, sometimes hours. So, usually it is not enough time to really get people to safety.

      Diaster prediction is tough – that’s the major reason disasters are so disastrous, we don’t see them coming!

    • Photo: Amy MacQueen

      Amy MacQueen answered on 21 Jun 2011:

      No – often there are warning signs but not always – these can include minor tremors in the build up to a major earthquake or volcanic eruption but even if these occur it isn’t possible to predict exactly when a disaster will occur!

    • Photo: Julia Griffen

      Julia Griffen answered on 21 Jun 2011:

      They can feel the small tremors coming, as they start off small and get bigger.. so can give early warning signs, and predict from the early pattersn how big and where it is going to be..but the time scale is very small.. and they cannot give enough warning.