Predicting Earthquakes


To say “Earthquakes are predictable” is to,  in a way, envision a better world. It is the dream of every seismologist to someday predict an earthquake. I did my little contribution to the very same.

I developed a mathematical model based on continuum mechanics instead of solid mechanics that has been “traditionally” used. I considered the possibility of the plate boundaries (region of contact between two plates) becoming a fluid under intense stress. Therefore, solid mechanics would no longer give us beneficial results instead a different math has to be adopted. The idea of the plate boundary behaving as a fluid was illustrated experimentally by the Dilatancy effect. Therefore if under stress the plate boundary becomes a fluid, it can easily slip past each other.

The mechanism I proposed can be summed as follows (excluding the calculus). Two plates keep moving with a relative velocity, until the plates start pressing against each other. This causes the stress between the plates to increase monumentally. The rate at which it increases is crucial to determining its fluidity. As the stress between the plates builds up, it assumes a fluidic nature by the dilatancy effect and the viscosity drops to a finite value (viscosity for any true solid is infinity). This finite viscosity enables the plates to move past each other, releasing the stress and the massive energy built up as an earthquake. Therefore if were to point out the critical viscosity, then we could effectively predict all three important parameters of an earthquake – Time, Magnitude and Epicentre (Place). Although the model is specific to inter-plate earthquakes (earthquakes caused by or between two plates), it’s importance lies in the fact that the most devastating  earthquakes most often or not belong to this category. 

pressure curve

I don’t wish to include the mathematics and the derivation of that critical viscosity but it’s analysis gives us at least a hypothetical possibility of one day being able to predict earthquakes . To quote myself “I have done my contribution.”


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