Key Terms in Quantectum’s Earthquake Forecasting

As unique as Quantectum's earthquake technology is, as unknown as sometimes the terms we use might seem. By familiarizing yourself with the terms we use in earthquake forecasts or event responses, you'll gain insight into earthquake forecasting and be better equipped to interpret our reports accurately. By the end of this post, you'll have a solid grasp of the language of earthquake forecasting, empowering you to engage with our posts with confidence and understanding.

D-Waves (Potentially Dangerous Waves)

D-Waves or potentially dangerous waves are tectonic waves that have the potential to trigger moderate to strong earthquakes globally. As they pass through regions, they increase high active tectonic tractions, thus increasing seismic activity in their wake. This means that they intensify the stresses and pressures along tectonic plate boundaries or fault lines, which are already areas of high tectonic activity. As a result, the increased stresses potentially lead to the occurrence of earthquakes in these regions.

Quantectum is monitoring and analyzing D-waves on a daily basis since their directions can change quickly. Based on this, we publish regular D-waves updates on our social media channels: X Global, X Japan, X Indonesia, X Euro-Mediterranean, X Mexico, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

D-waves Quantectum earthquake
Picture 1: Five D-waves impacting seismic activity from January 9 to 16.

The picture above shows five D-waves that Quantectum was monitoring from January 9 to 16. These D-waves contributed to the triggering of multiple earthquakes around the world and resulted in the highest active tractions in specific locations globally.

Rotational Singularity

A rotational singularity refers to a phenomenon observed in geology and seismology, particularly in the context of tectonic plate interactions. It occurs when fault plates are in extreme proximity to each other, leading to the generation of infinite shear and normal tractions within finite regions, such as volumes of rocks. This situation arises due to the interaction of tectonic waves with low Cosserat lengths, typically within a specific geographic area.

The rotational singularity can manifest in various shapes, such as elongated or circular, akin to resonance phenomena observed in physics.

Rotational singularity in Quantectum earthquake forecasting
Picture 2: Rotational singularity in the Japan region in ellipse shape.

The picture above shows the rotational singularity in the Japan region, which led to various earthquakes, among which was also magnitude 5.2 earthquake in the Izu Islands on February 14, 2024. Another example of rotational singularity that led to a large earthquake was before the 2024 Noto Peninsula Earthquake on January 1, 2024.

Quantectum is monitoring the situation of rotational singularities regionally and globally on a weekly basis and reporting any seen changes on social media channels.

Tectonic Waves

Tectonic waves, also known as strain waves, are an important aspect of Quantectum’s earthquake forecasting, being the real triggers of earthquakes in the Earth’s crust; or, said differently, tectonic waves are where earthquakes are. Thousands of them travel through the Earth’s crust triggering earthquakes in unstable tectonic zones.

Tectonic waves are solitary waves that emerge when tectonic faults and rock blocks move relative to each other. Think of it as a domino effect, where the movement of one block triggers a chain reaction, leading to a “wave” of collapsing dominoes, or in other words, generating a wave of movement along fault lines.

In the Earth’s crust, the “dominoes” are tectonic faults and blocks of rock, and the domino effect in the crust leads to the so-called tectonic waves or also strain waves. These waves have all possible velocities up to 6000 m/s. However, there also exist very slow tectonic waves that are related to large earthquakes.

Tectonic waves in Quantectum earthquake forecasting
Picture 3: Earthquakes worldwide from February 28 to March 1, 2024, with tectonic waves from Quantectum's Earthquake Forecasting Center.

Based on a careful analysis of the distribution of past global earthquakes, Quantectum’s Operational Center can calculate the current and future positions of tectonic waves. When these waves pass through unstable fault systems and plate-tectonic boundaries, they can cause large earthquakes. Therefore, tectonic waves define endangered regions where dangerous seismic states can occur.

Read more about tectonic waves in our previous blogs here and here.

MEM (Magnitude of Synchronized Seismic Sequences)

MEM stands for the average magnitude of synchronized seismic sequences in a specific region. Imagine it as the typical strength of earthquakes observed in an area over time. While the maximum potential magnitude, referring to the largest possible magnitude that an earthquake could reach in a particular region or fault zone, is typically around two units larger than MEM, other factors like shear traction and stress also influence the magnitude of the largest earthquakes. Essentially, MEM provides a yardstick for understanding the seismic activity level in a particular region.

Mean expected magnitude - earthquake forecasting
Picture 4: MEM in weekly earthquake forecast for the Euro-Mediterranean.

Every week in our weekly regional earthquake forecasts, we publish a section about the MEM in a specific area. For example, the map above shows the highest MEM for the Euro-Mediterranean region from March 4 to March 10 in southern Greece, central Turkey, on the Turkey & Iran border, and southern Iran. This suggests that seismic activity is expected to be most intense in these areas during that week.

Shear Traction

Shear traction is a type of internal traction vector that acts parallel to a plane within a solid material, like a pulling or pushing force that happens inside something solid, like a block of wood. It represents the shear force per unit area that causes deformation or sliding of material layers relative to each other, meaning that goes sideways across a surface inside the material, making different parts slide or deform against each other. In earthquake forecasting, the shear traction is calculated along faults and represents the effect of various seismic waves. We use shear traction to figure out how much stress is happening along faults, which are like cracks in the ground where earthquakes start and it helps us understand how seismic waves affect the ground during an earthquake.

Shear traction by Quantectum
Picture 5: The default model of Quantectum shows the total field values of shear traction.

Quantectum always takes into consideration the shear traction when analyzing global seismic activity and preparing earthquake forecasts. For instance, the picture above shows the default model of Quantectum for the Indonesia region from February 26 to March 3, 2024, which forecasts that the total field values of shear traction in the coming week will be the highest in Halmahera, Molucca Sea, eastern Papua New Guinea, from the central Philippines to Java, and from Kepualan Talaud to Sumbawa.

Shear Stress

Shear stress refers is the type of stress acting parallel to a material's surface, causing layers to deform or slide relative to each other. This stress, expressed in force per unit area showing the intensity of a force acting on a given area, occurs in various mediums, including solids, fluids, and structures. In the context of earthquakes, shear stress is closely associated with tectonic processes, particularly at transform plate boundaries, where plates slide past each other.

At transform plate boundaries, tectonic plates slide past each other horizontally. This movement creates a significant amount of shear stress along the boundary where the plates are in contact. Over time, this stress can build up until it exceeds the strength of the rocks, leading to sudden movements known as earthquakes.

Shear stress in earthquake forecasting
Picture 6: Shear stress for Japan region for the time on March 1.

Quantectum analyses shear stress every time we analyze past earthquakes. The picture above shows the normalized shear stress for the Japan region for the magnitude 5.0 earthquake that occurred on February 5, in Kyushu. It tells us that the region was characterized by very high normalized shear stress and approximately WNW-ESE-directed maximum horizontal compression.

Shear Traction Field

The shear traction field is a concept that measures the tensile force calculated along faults on the Earth's surface globally. When tectonic plates interact, they can create faults where the Earth's crust is under stress. This stress can lead to the formation of fractures or faults, where the rock layers move past each other.

It represents the change in tension within fault lines. Picture it as the 'tug-of-war' happening between tectonic plates, where the direction and magnitude of the force exerted play a crucial role in seismic activity. These plates are constantly moving and interacting with each other. The shear traction field measures the forces exerted along these fault lines, similar to the tension in a rope during a tug-of-war game.

Shear traction field
Picture 7: Quantectum’s default model of the shear traction field in the Japan region in the time frame of 4 and 10 March 2024.

Quantectum uses the shear traction analysis for earthquake forecasts. For example, the picture above shows Quantectum’s default model of the shear traction field for the weekly earthquake forecast for the Japan region from March 4 to March 10. It shows that the highest values will occur in the Sea of Japan, near the west coast of Honshu, Shikoku, near the south coast of western Honshu, western Honshu, southwestern Ryukyu, and southern Kuril Islands. This forecast suggests that these identified areas were more likely to experience significant seismic activity during the specified timeframe.

Local Time-Synchronization

Local time-synchronization refers to the harmonization of rhythms among tectonic faults, blocks, and rocks over time. It's akin to soldiers marching in perfect unison, where various sequences synchronize to produce seismic events.

Picture the Earth's crust as a complex orchestra, with each geological feature acting as a different instrument. Just as a conductor unifies individual instruments to create a harmonious melody, in the realm of seismology, movements merge into a synchronized performance, culminating in seismic phenomena. Despite their diversity, these features must align their movements to maintain stability or to release accumulated stress, leading to seismic activity. This synchronization ensures that the Earth's crust functions smoothly, with occasional disruptions in the form of earthquakes.

Local time synchronizations Quantectum
Picture 8: Quantectum’s Earthquake Forecasting UHD Time-synchronization model.

The picture above comes from Quantectum’s Earthquake Forecasting UHD Time-synchronization model. This case shows that the region of the selected earthquake in Indonesia was in a highly unstable state due to local Time-synchronizations. The map illustrates the local interaction potential showing the local instabilities of tectonic zones according to the UHD Time-synchronization model.

Critical Earthquake-Triggering Potential

Critical earthquake-triggering potential refers to the likelihood that an earthquake will be triggered in a specific area due to elevated shear traction and fault instabilities, particularly in regions with high tectonic instability. It is the result of elevated shear traction and fault instabilities in the presence of critical regions, which are the regions with high tectonic instability. As a result, there is an increased probability of earthquake triggering.

Moreover, the presence of critical regions increases the seismic risk. These regions are characterized by heightened tectonic instability, often resulting from complex geological processes such as plate boundary interactions or crustal deformation. In such areas, the stress accumulation along fault lines is pronounced, increasing the likelihood of seismic events.

Earthquake forecasting critical potential
Picture 9: Map with graphs of critical earthquake-triggering potential for Turkey.

Quantectum shows critical earthquake-triggering potential in weekly forecasts in the form of graphs for the regions that are most exposed to stronger earthquakes based on the calculations of critical potential. The picture above shows the critical potential for Turkey from February 26 to March 3, indicating that critical potential for earthquakes arose in southern Greece, western Turkey, central Turkey, and eastern Turkey. The black columns indicate the examined week, indicating a heightened likelihood of triggering earthquakes across various magnitudes.

Critical Instability Alarm Field

A critical instability alarm field refers to a designated area or field within a seismic monitoring system that alerts us to regions where heightened seismic activity is anticipated due to fault instabilities or critical regions. The critical instability alarm field can be considered as the extrapolation of critical regions presented along the regional fault system. These fields are defined based on geological data, historical seismic activity, and forecasting models.

When the system detects indicators of potential seismic instability or critical conditions in a particular region, it triggers an alarm within the designated "Critical Instability Alarm Field."

Critical instability alarm - earthquake forecasting
Picture 10: Map of the critical instability alarm field in Japan from March 3 to 9, 2024.


In conclusion, navigating the world of earthquake forecasting requires not only an understanding of the scientific principles but also familiarity with the specialized terminology used in the field. Through this blog post, we've endeavored to shed light on some of the key terms employed in Quantectum's forecasting process, ranging from D-waves to rotational singularities and beyond. By demystifying these concepts, we hope to empower our readers to engage more deeply with our forecasts and appreciate the intricate dynamics of seismic activity. We encourage you to delve further into the world of earthquake science, asking questions, seeking understanding, and joining us on this journey toward a safer, more informed future. Thank you for your interest in Quantectum earthquake forecasting, and we look forward to sharing more insights with you in the future.


1) Žalohar, Jure. 2018. What Causes Earthquakes? in Developments in Structural Geology and Tectonics (Vol. 2, pp. 179-190). Elsevier.

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