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Quantectum forecasts earthquakes, it does not predict them.

When talking about future-related earthquakes we know three commonly used expressions: earthquake prediction, earthquake forecast, and earthquake early warning. It is crucial to understand their difference since they provide information based on different approaches and consequently provide different results or results of no defined probability. Many individuals still tend to mix the three terms which can lead to misunderstandings, incorrect assumptions, and difficult, if not impossible, future earthquake expectations.

At Quantectum we forecast earthquakes, but we do not predict them. We do also not send earthquake early warnings, which are issued after seconds to minutes after shaking has already begun.

What is the difference between forecasting and predicting earthquakes?

Earthquake forecast and earthquake prediction both relate to a similar concept, which is future-oriented. However, there is a fine line that differentiates them.

Firstly, let’s have a look at the definitions of the terms earthquake forecast and earthquake prediction.
An earthquake forecast, according to the United States Geological Survey(1), is a statement that describes the long-term chances that an earthquake of a certain magnitude will happen during a certain time window in a certain area with a certain percent of probability of an earthquake actually occurring. Earthquake predicting is a more certain way of telling about the future earthquakes and must define three elements: 1) time, 2) location, and 3) magnitude. They can be highly risky, and the actual results may deviate from predictions made.

Some people say they can predict earthquakes, but they usually miss at least one of the following three essentials:

  • Earthquakes are part of a scientific process, while earthquake predictions are many times not based on scientific evidence;
  • They do not define all three of the elements required for a prediction;
  • General predictions that do not contain enough specific information.

An earthquake prediction has to state where and when an event will happen, with enough reliable specifics, including magnitude, to be useful for response planning purposes. For example, the statement “there will be an earthquake tomorrow at 8:00 AM” is almost surely going to come true in the world, but it does not have much value and does not provide enough reliable information as a prediction. Even if an earthquake really occurs tomorrow at 8:00 AM, almost nothing can be done with this information. If at least the specific date or location are not stated, we cannot call this a prediction.

Until now no one has developed a system of earthquake predictions, however, Quantectum developed an earthquake forecasting system, which focuses on high probabilities of an earthquake actually occurring in a specific area during a specific time.

South-Sandwich-Islands-Earthquake-Forecast

Let’s look at one example. On a cloudy Tuesday morning, meteorologists may forecast a rainy weekend ahead. They could deliver the weather forecast also in the following way: “We forecast a 70% chance of rain on Saturday and Sunday,” which can also be expressed as “there is a 30% chance of no rain on Saturday and Sunday.” Earthquake forecasting is similar to this example. Quantectum Earthquake Forecasting System provides you with information on how much possibility there is for the ground to shake anywhere around the world at any time of the day leaving you enough time to act accordingly.

Some mobile applications, websites, and social media pages advocate earthquake prediction. Based on some natural observations they issue warnings of future earthquakes in a specific area and try to demonstrate what is happening in the Earth’s crust. However, before believing and following any of such sites, it’s necessary to understand their ways of “predicting” earthquakes. An important question we should be asking ourselves is: Is this really reliable? Is it scientifically based?

There are many “well-known” earthquake precursors:

  • a swarm of small earthquakes,
  • increasing amounts of radon in local water,
  • increasing size of magnitudes in moderate size events,
  • groundwater level changes,
  • temperature change, etc.

We should always keep in mind, that the above-stated precursors are not 100% reliable and even if changes in them are observed, they many times do not reflect an earthquake eruption. Anomalies in the above precursors can often be seen with no following of an earthquake. On the other side, many earthquakes occur without any precursors being noticed beforehand.

Quantectum uses scientifically proven and reliable ways to forecast earthquakes. You can read about them here.

But what’s the point of forecasting earthquakes if forecasts are not 100% reliable?

The uncertainty associated with every forecast means that different scenarios are possible, and the forecast should always reflect that. When following certain earthquake predictions or earthquake forecasts, it’s also important to understand on how many models or precursors earthquake predictions/forecasts are being made.

Why is this important?

Quantectum uses several scientifically based models to forecast earthquakes. For each model, numerous forecasts are produced, all activated from the same starting time, but with slightly different starting conditions, and by using slightly different physical parameters. In this way, computers produce ensembles of forecasts for each model. Ensemble forecasting is a type of probability forecasting, that reports a message, which reminds the user about the forecast uncertainty that should be considered when making any practical use of the forecast. The uncertainty associated with every forecast means that different scenarios are possible, and the forecast should reflect that. Single deterministic forecasts can be misleading as they fail to provide this information. In this way, Quantectum can produce daily charts of synchronization clouds, which indicate regions of increased probability for moderate to strong earthquakes, up to 64 days ahead.

Looking at the earthquake prediction/forecasting problem from a slightly more fundamental point of view, a forecast explicitly cast in probability terms is better, not only because it provides the user with an estimate of the error, but also because it is more ‘trustworthy’.

 

The Omega-Theory

Quantectum earthquake forecasting system is based on the Omega-Theory, which is an entirely new physical theory of earthquakes that represents the solution to the earthquake forecasting problem. More information is available here.

Earthquake early warning

The main difference between earthquake early warning and earthquake forecasts/predictions is that an earthquake early warning is issued after an earthquake has already occurred. Earthquake early warning systems detect ground motion as soon as an earthquake begins and quickly send alerts, giving people crucial seconds to prepare. Quantectum forecasts earthquakes are issued one to two months in advance, leaving the receivers of warnings enough time to prepare in advance.

Conclusion

Quantectum is making huge steps in the field of earthquake forecasting. Its earthquake forecasting system is based on reliable, scientifically proven data, that are not being used by anyone else. However, this does not mean that Quantectum is the only company that is trying to produce such results. We can find various websites and social media profiles that try to predict earthquakes, but are based on unreliable data or precursors, don’t state the probability of an event actually occurring, and do not even check the three necessities: location, time, magnitude. On the other hand, Quantectum is using several models to forecast earthquakes and does not take into account only one single ‘deterministic’ component, since single ‘deterministic’ forecasts can be misleading, as they don’t consider different possibilities, that could affect the final result.

 

Sources:
1 United States Geological Survey (USGS). Accessed on 2022-03-03. Available at: https://www.usgs.gov/faqs/what-difference-between-earthquake-early-warning-earthquake-forecasts-earthquake-probabilities

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