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New tool to predict earthquake risk accurately

world Updated: May 16, 2012 10:31 IST

A new tool could now help experts predict areas at high seismic risk, according to new research.

"What we're talking about here is mapping the earthquake faults in the Earth," ABC Science quoted seismologist David Robinson, of the Australian National University in Canberra, as saying.

Robinson, and colleagues from Colorado School of Mines have developed new computer programmes that can use measurements from just one monitoring station to locate earthquakes to within an accuracy of 200 metres.

While traditional monitoring uses the first second or so of seismic signals, the new technique uses the entire seismic wave, which can go on for 30 seconds.

The new technique images all of the minor quakes and aftershocks associated with it.

"You might be able to identify where there's a gap in the activity, for example. That might indicate a region of the fault which has not had an earthquake yet," says Robinson.

He says his technique is still at the proof-of-concept stage. But he hopes one day it can be used to narrow down these hotspots, providing useful information for building codes and insurance pricing.