Harvard, Google AI Can Accurately Predict Earthquake Aftershocks

Posted: Sep 1 2018, 12:05pm CDT | by , Updated: Sep 1 2018, 12:10pm CDT , in Latest Science News


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Harvard, Google AI can Accurately Predict Earthquake Aftershocks
A damaged building at Accumuli by the Amatrice earthquake (August 24, 2016). Credit: Marco Anzidei

New system can predict locations where the earthquake aftershocks might occur.

Researchers from Google and Harvard University have developed a system that reliably predicts aftershocks after a major earthquake. The system is based on deep learning algorithms and could help reduce fatalities and structural damage in the wake of earthquakes.

“Aftershock forecasting in particular is a challenge that's well-suited to machine learning because there are so many physical phenomena that could influence aftershock behavior and machine learning is extremely good at teasing out those relationships. I think we've really just scratched the surface of what could be done with aftershock forecasting...and that's really exciting." Study’s co-author Phoebe DeVries from Harvard University said.

Earthquake prediction has been considered impossible by many researchers. Although they can identify the areas at risk, fairly little progress has been made in pinpointing when an earthquake will occur and how destructive it will be.

That’s not the case for earthquake aftershocks. Aftershocks are caused by complex geological factors deep inside the ground. Researchers have methods to forecast when aftershocks will hit and how sever they will be, there is more uncertainty about their exact location. Aftershocks can occur randomly without any sequence and can even lead to a larger earthquake.

For that reason, researchers analyzed a database of earthquakes from around the world by using deep learning algorithm and created a new and improved earthquake prediction system. The system was able to forecast aftershocks significantly better than random assignment. Researchers believe that their system could one day be used to predict real aftershocks.

“After earthquakes of magnitude 5 or larger, people spend a great deal of time mapping which part of the fault slipped and how much it moved. Many studies might use observations from one or two earthquakes, but we used the whole database,” said Brendan Meade, a Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences said. “…and we combined it with a physics-based model of how the Earth will be stressed and strained after the earthquake, with the idea being that the stresses and strains caused by the main shock may be what trigger the aftershocks."

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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