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Can earthquakes be predicted?

The debate on earthquake predictions has been there for ages. And, there have been a few instances when quakes have been predicted correctly.

india Updated: Mar 13, 2003 12:11 IST
PTI

The debate on earthquake predictions has been there for ages. And, there have been a few instances when quakes have been predicted correctly. But seismologists and experts maintain that there is no scientifically established procedure to predict earthquakes.

Yet there have been two cases in which major earthquakes have been predicted.

The first ever case involved an Indian who accurately foretold the 1973 Blue Mountain Lake earthquake in New York.

An Indian Y P Agarwal had scientifically predicted the Blue Mountain Lake earthquake in 1973, and after the prediction came true, it was published in the science magazine, "Nature", the same year.

The second accurate prediction involved a Chinese seismologist, who foretold the precise time and occurrence of the Heicheng Earthquake in 1975, which helped save at least 1,00,000 lives.

The accuracy of the prediction was achieved through monitoring of the abnormal seismic activity in the region with an array of sophisticated equipment.

However, while these two cases stand out as the only successful examples of earthquake predictions, similar feats could not be achieved in 1976 when earthquake took a toll of tens of thousands in the Tangshan region of China in the neighbourhood of Heicheng.

According to Prof V K Gaur, former director of National Geological Research Institute, precise earthquake predictions within narrow limits of time, location and magnitude would perhaps not be possible due to the complex and unreliable factors involved in the process.

First Published: Mar 06, 2003 12:52 IST