Research NewsSeismology

A Slow Start for Earthquakes

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Science  13 Feb 1998:
Vol. 279, Issue 5353, pp. 985
DOI: 10.1126/science.279.5353.985

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Summary

Theoretical and lab studies have suggested that faults should give off warning signs as they edge toward rupture, but no one has yet found what they are. Now, researchers using a seemingly roundabout method--testing for the effects of tides on quake timing--offer the strongest evidence yet that some faults do start to slip, rapidly concentrating stress, for hours or days before the full-blown rupture. However, there's no guarantee of successful prediction, researchers caution, as the effect may be so small that it's useless.