Earthquake Prediction: Variation of Seismic Velocities before the San Francisco Earthquake

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  11 May 1973:
Vol. 180, Issue 4086, pp. 632-635
DOI: 10.1126/science.180.4086.632


A large precursory change in seismic body-wave velocities occurred before the earthquake in San Fernando, California. The discovery that this change is mainly in the P-wave velocity clearly relates the effect to the phenomenon of dilatancy in fluid-filled rocks. This interpretation is supported by the time-volume relation obtained by combining the present data with the data from previous studies. The duration of the precursor period is proportional to the square of an effective fault dimension, which indicates that a diffusive or fluid-flow phenomenon controls the time interval between the initiation of dilatancy and the return to a fully saturated condition which is required for rupture.