Predict the Next Great Earthquake The ability to make predictions is a valuable tool in the progression of scientific thought. Long before the development of modern science, humans attempted to foresee future events. However, most of these past “forecasts” were not based on sound scientific principles. Therefore, the predictions we will attempt to make in this activity should be based on collecting relevant data and observing patterns in the data. We should analyze this data and develop a logical connection. If this connection is based on accurate data, then we will be able to formulate a prediction that is more defensible. To begin this process we need to gather the necessary information to help with our journey. One high quality source for this information if Google Earth. This software is not only easy to manipulate, but visually reveals patterns in our data. Patterns which will be of tremendous help in creating a viable prediction. However, we must first learn how this software can be used to help gain knowledge about earthquake activity. Step 1: We will use the following steps to help with observing the relationship between plate boundaries and earthquake magnitude. Open Google Earth View Menu on the left and look under My Places (make sure all boxes are unchecked) Place check in box next to “USGS Real-time Earthquakes” (uncheck Plate Boundaries and USGS logo) Move Earth to the southern California area, then scroll down or enlarge (+) to zoom down to an eye altitude of approx 1000 km (given in lower right hand corner) The legend on the left will show the magnitude of each earthquake by the size of the circle and indicate how recent the earthquake is based on color. Observe the magnitude and frequency of the earthquakes in this region. When you click on a circle information about the exact time and depth of the earthquake will be given. Now, go to the menu and check the box next to plate boundaries. Once all of the plate boundaries appear on the Earth, observe their location. If you click on the tiny + sign next to the plate boundary box, this will open each type of plate boundary located on the earth. Once this is accomplished, uncheck all of the plate boundaries and check each boundary one at a time. Relate the magnitude, frequency, and depth of earthquakes in this region with the nearest plate boundary. This will allow for a reasonable hypothesis about the relationship between magnitude and type of boundary. Step 2: We can use Google Earth to help us focus on the relationship between Real-time and Historical Earthquakes to observe the relationship between earthquakes and plate boundaries. Go to the menu and check the box next to Historic Earthquakes Scroll out to approximately 15,000 km in altitude and view the distribution of earthquakes Uncheck historic earthquakes and make sure plate boundaries are checked. Look for pattern. Repeat, by checking historic earthquakes and observe the relationship Step 3: We can use the Historical Earthquake data and focus on the relationship of high magnitude quakes and plate boundaries. Stay at 15,000 km in altitude Uncheck USGS Real-time Earthquakes. Under Historical Earthquakes, check (+) next to earthquake epicenters This will reveal all the historical earthquakes from a M3-M9 Uncheck M3-M7 and make sure M8 & M9 are checked (20 gray circles denoting high magnitude quakes) Return to menu under USGS Real-time Earthquakes and check Plate Boundaries Observe the pattern between these high magnitude earthquakes are plate boundaries Step 4: At this point we have collected data on earthquakes and plate boundaries. Now we will use Largest Earthquakes in the World to help gather more data to help formulate our prediction. Stay at 15,000 km in altitude and leave the M8 and M9 earthquakes checked Go to menu and check Largest Earthquakes in the World Scan the world and look for regions of the earth which have experienced high magnitude earthquakes Make sure the high magnitude plate boundary determined in Step 3 is checked. Also check Plate Convergence and get information about the rate of plate movement. Click on circles in a region and gather the following information: o o o o o o Magnitude Depth Years between events in region (frequency) Proximity to plate boundary Rate of plate movement Historical facts about surface damage and loss of life (click details from USGS website) Step 5: Make your prediction. Keep in mind as you collect data, the prediction should include where you feel this earthquake will occur, the projected data for this event and the human impact. Be sure to include all of the relevant data to support your decision.