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Can you predict earthquakes?

No. Neither the USGS nor any other scientists have ever predicted a major earthquake. We do not know how, and we do not expect to know how any time in the foreseeable future.

However, based on scientific data, probabilities can be calculated for potential future earthquakes. For example, scientists estimate there is a 76% probability that a magnitude 7 earthquake will occur within the next 30 years in northern California. The probability is 75% for southern California (see our Earthquake Forecast Fact Sheet).

The USGS focuses its efforts on the long-term mitigation of earthquake hazards by helping to improve the safety of structures, rather than by trying to accomplish short-term predictions.


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Tags: Seismology, Liquefaction, Tsunamis, Earthquakes, Faults, Tectonics, Magnitude, Prediction