New Research Project Could Forecast Next Big Earthquake

Local Universities Are Researching A Project To Forecast Earthquakes

A major new research project involving San Diego State University and University of California- San Diego could provide clues on when and where the next big earthquake will hit.

Last year's Easter quake shook the earth and rattled our nerves, but it wasn't the big one. When it does hit, was there a way we would know it was coming? "I think it's a fantastic opportunity," said SDSU seismologist Steve Day.

Day said a precise prediction isn't the goal, but believes better quake forecasts are the focus of a project led by University of California- Riverside, paid for by a 4.6 million dollar taxpayer-funded grant.

"This research is so exciting, because we've got so many of the pieces in place now," said Day.

Day said the time to research is now because supercomputers are equipped to help with computer simulations and extensive maps of major faults in southern California are now available, along with other new data, including information on how faults move.

Day believes the research project could lead to yearly, monthly, or daily forecasts with quake probabilities for specific areas.

Right now, researchers can only say there's a 40 percent probability a big quake will strike along the southern San Andreas fault within 3 decades.

10News reporter Michael Chen asked, "We've heard from experts for so long, that we can't predict the big one. Is this a waste of taxpayer money? "Absolutely not," said Day. Day contends better information will mean better preparation, from emergency response to mapping out who should buy quake insurance. . The project will last 5 years, and include a look at all the major faults in the southern half of California.

It is funded by the national science foundation.

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