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Quantitative Earthquake Prediction
Vladimir Kossobokov (Académie des Sciences, Russie)

4 mai 2006

The Earth is a hierarchy of volumes of different size. Driven by planetary convection these volumes are involved into joint and relative movement. The movement is controlled by a wide variety of processes on and around the fractal mesh of boundary zones, and does produce earthquakes. This hierarchy of movable volumes composes a large non-linear dynamical system. Prediction of such a system in a sense of extrapolation of trajectory into the future is futile. However, upon coarse-graining the integral empirical regularities emerge opening possibilities of prediction in a sense of the commonly accepted consensus definition worked out in 1976 by the US National Research Council. Implications of the understanding hierarchical nature of lithosphere and its dynamics based on systematic monitoring and evidence of its unified space-energy similarity at different scales help avoiding basic errors in earthquake prediction claims. They suggest rules and recipes of adequate earthquake prediction classification, comparison and optimization. The approach has already led to the design of reproducible intermediate-term middle-range earthquake prediction technique. Its real-time testing aimed at prediction of the largest earthquakes worldwide has proved beyond any reasonable doubt the effectiveness of practical earthquake forecasting. In the first approximation, the accuracy is about 1-5 years and 5-10 times the anticipated source dimension. Further analysis allows reducing spatial uncertainty down to 1-3 source dimensions, although at a cost of additional failures-to-predict. Despite of limited accuracy a considerable damage could be prevented by timely knowledgeable use of the existing predictions and earthquake prediction strategies. The December 26, 2004 Indian Ocean Disaster seems to be the first indication that the methodology, designed for prediction of M8.0+ earthquakes can be rescaled for prediction of both smaller magnitude earthquakes (e.g., down to M5.5+ in Italy) and for mega-earthquakes of M9.0+. The monitoring at regional scales may require application of a recently proposed scheme for the spatial stabilization of the intermediate-term middle-range predictions. The scheme guarantees a more objective and reliable diagnosis of times of increased probability and is less restrictive to input seismic data. It makes feasible reestablishment of seismic monitoring aimed at prediction of large magnitude earthquakes in Caucasus and Central Asia, which to our regret, has been discontinued in 1991. The first results of the monitoring (1986-1990) were encouraging, at least for M6.5+.

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Vladimir Kossobokov Vladimir Kossobokov (Académie des Sciences, Russie)
International Institute of Earthquake Prediction Theory and Mathematical Geophysics, Russian Academy of Sciences

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