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New tool to accurately map earthquake risk

Australia: Australia researchers are squeezing more information out of seismic waves to accurately map earthquakes and predict areas at highest risk. The findings were presented at the Australian Earth Sciences Convention in Canberra.

Australian National University seismologist David Robinson says the research is helping scientists better understand earthquakes. “What we’re talking about here is mapping the earthquake faults in the Earth,” he said.

Robinson, who also works for Geoscience Australia, says conventional monitoring triangulates the location of an earthquake using the travel time of seismic waves to a number of different earthquake recording stations.

The speed of seismic waves vary greatly along with the variability of the Earth and this method can provide a high level of accuracy in areas that have a high number of recording stations.

But Robinson says in places other than Japan and California, this method can only pinpoint the location of an earthquake to within 5 or 10 kilometres. While this level of accuracy is good enough for alerting emergency services about the general location of an earthquake, it is not enough to provide scientists with information they need to better understand earthquake risk.

Source: ABC News