China's Campaign to Predict Quakes

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Science  13 Sep 1996:
Vol. 273, Issue 5281, pp. 1484-1486
DOI: 10.1126/science.273.5281.1484


Beijing—A vast, 30-year effort to monitor the earthquakes that regularly shake China has led to unprecedented—and controversial—success in predicting them. After decades of secrecy, the Chinese have recently begun opening up this program to the West, giving foreign scientists a closer look at an effort about which many have been highly skeptical. Chinese officials say that “the accumulation of experience”—including reliance on empirical analysis of a host of precursors—can be very useful in forecasting earthquakes so long as the underlying physical mechanisms remain poorly understood.