Detection of Hydrothermal Precursors to Large Northern California Earthquakes

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Science  04 Sep 1992:
Vol. 257, Issue 5075, pp. 1363-1368
DOI: 10.1126/science.257.5075.1363


During the period 1973 to 1991 the interval between eruptions from a periodic geyser in Northern California exhibited precursory variations 1 to 3 days before the three largest earthquakes within a 250-kilometer radius of the geyser. These include the magnitude 7.1 Loma Prieta earthquake of 18 October 1989 for which a similar preseismic signal was recorded by a strainmeter located halfway between the geyser and the earthquake. These data show that at least some earthquakes possess observable precursors, one of the prerequisites for successful earthquake prediction. All three earthquakes were further than 130 kilometers from the geyser, suggesting that precursors might be more easily found around rather than within the ultimate rupture zone of large California earthquakes.