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Seismology: Seismologists Learn the Language of Quakes

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Science  16 Feb 1996:
Vol. 271, Issue 5251, pp. 910
DOI: 10.1126/science.271.5251.910


Earthquake researchers have long been eavesdroppers, but until recently they listened mainly to the rumblings and groanings of individual faults. Now they are realizing that to understand what faults are saying, they need to monitor dialogues between a fault and its neighbors. This new way of thinking holds that each individual quake is part of a larger conversation in which a major rupture on one fault can transfer stress to a neighboring one and spark a response from it, or temporarily render it speechless by relieving its stress and imposing decades of quiescence on the region.