10 Exploratory Essay Topics on Earthquake Prediction

Topics and ideas
Posted on August 9, 2016

You have been asked to write an exploratory essay on whether earthquakes are predictable or not. Even though you have over 15 websites open in your window for reference, you can’t seem to dig up anything meaningful. Fret not, today is your lucky day because we are going discuss an extensive three-part guide on the subject.

In this section, you’ll find ten very informative facts on earthquake prediction while the next section is titled 20 topics on earthquake prediction for an exploratory essay, will help you select a good topic. There’s also a sample essay on one of those topics and finally, the third part of this guide discusses how to write the essay itself. We assure going through this guide, your exploratory essay will be exceptional and help you get full credit.

Here are 10 facts on earthquake prediction for an exploratory essay:

  1.    To this day, there hasn’t been a system that can predict an earthquake, big or small, with 100% accuracy. Too often predictions have been labelled false alarms. The false-alarm label has made it very difficult to differentiate a particular detection system that shows real-time and accurate predictions rather than those relying on chance or estimates.
  2.    The elements leading up to an earthquake are multidimensional. Therefore, it is important to factor in space, magnitude and time-related aspects of the earthquake. It is important to come up with forecasts that are based on a probabilistic analysis because of the uncertainty in prediction parameters. It is not feasible that the predictions are deterministic; the forecast of seismicity should be based on statistical analysis. Even if the forecast is deterministic, it is important that its evaluation should be statistical to remove any possibilities of coincidence.
  3.    One very important parameter that needs to be considered during an earthquake forecast is the focal mechanism. According to a US Geological survey by Dziewonski, Ekstrom & Salganik done in 1996, the Forecasts of modern day earthquake cataloguing should include information collected from seismic moment tensor inversions. Focal mechanisms along with time-space-size are all very important parameters of an earthquake. Through them, we can calculate low-frequency seismograms or static deformation of an event.
  4.    Among all the proposed methods for the prediction of earthquakes, there is a lack of quantitative theory, therefore, they should all be considered as empirical methods. Some of these methods are earthquake clustering, seismicity variations, changes in seismic velocities, anomalous animal behavior, precursory strain, hydrological signals, and variations in geochemical and electromagnetic signals. One of these methods can be considered a quantitative forecasting method, and that’s earthquake clustering.
  5.    Quantitative methods can predict earthquakes far more efficiently because it’s an intricate process. Global tectonic gives us information about the strain accumulation on plate boundaries, and through various geological and geodetic methods, tectonic deformation can be measured. Another quantitative method is studying the low and state frequency deformation which occurs in faraway fields due to earthquakes through the linear elasticity theory, resulting in the prediction of earthquakes, because we are able to study the accumulated strain of earthquake.
  6.    Earthquake predictions are done for a few months, a year to a decade or beyond a decade. These timescales depend on the earthquake mitigation measures or the technique used. Seismicity has an invariant scale, that’s why it’s not possible to define a real-time temporal feature scale of earthquakes. There are, however, two physical scales; the first one is connected to the propagation of earthquakes and elastic waves and the second one is about the velocity of tectonic deformation. The first scale comprises seconds or tenths of seconds due to the focal area size and the zone of extreme shaking, while the second one comprises decades or even millenniums because it’s taken from the accumulated strain mostly released by the largest earthquakes.
  7.    Evaluation of earthquake predictions should also have a comparative test of null hypothesis in it so that coincidences and chance based results can be disregarded. Temporal clustering of seismicity and spatial variations should be included in the null hypothesis. It is much easier to devise null hypothesis for extreme earthquakes because their clustering is weak for at least a couple of years. Therefore, the Poisson process can at times work on behalf of null hypothesis. Though the spatial inhomogeneity of the epicenter of earthquake does create problems in the process of evaluation.
  8.    Computer simulations of earthquakes haven’t proven to be of much help either. The calculations of fluid dynamics can be cross-referenced with the actual velocity field. While simulated synthetic earthquakes may catalogue, it needs to be matched with the real one. The problem is the spontaneous nature of seismicity; the mathematical calculations of earthquake occurrence can only be done in statistical terms. If the computer is to model seismicity, it needs to have synthetic sequence which has the same statistical characteristics of a real earthquake with respect to time and space. This is where the real problem develops.
  9.    We now have the computing power and the capability to calculate mass calculations of seismic moment tensor. We can also monitor the connection of stress tensors with earthquake. Recent studies have shown that there is a relationship between stress and earthquakes. Difficulties have occurred due to the translation into the designs of stress accumulation, earthquakes and stress tensors.
  10.  People assume that if the weather can be predicted so can the earthquakes, but there are a lot of differences. Earthquakes are asymmetric in terms of time and amount of foreshocks are very negligible. Since seismicity is asymmetric in nature, it is different from the flow of fluids which are turbulent; this is why prediction of earthquakes is more difficult than the prediction of weather.

These facts will significantly help you in starting your research. There is just so much that you can write about on the subject of earthquake prediction. We can also understand if selecting a topic is giving you a tough time. Not to worry, the next part will surely give you more information to go on.

Earthquake Storms: The Fascinating History and Volatile Future of the San Andreas Fault. (2014). S.l.: Pegasus Books.
Advances in Earthquake Prediction. (2008). Berlin: Springer-Verlag Berlin and Heidelberg GmbH & KG.
Earthquake Prediction with Radio Techniques. (2015). S.l.: John Wiley & Sons (Asia) Pte.
Earthquake Time Bombs (2015)
Hough, S. E. (2010). Predicting the unpredictable: The tumultuous science of earthquake prediction. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Kagan, Y. (2015). Earthquakes: Models, Statistics, Testable Forecasts. Chichester: Wiley & Sons.
Lomnitz, C. (1994). Fundamentals of earthquake prediction. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

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