Induce an earthquake?

I was (kindly) informed last week that the area we live in is due for a major earthquake very soon - experts say within the next six months, if its on schedule. The intensity of the quake is expected to be at least as high as the 1995 Kobe (Japan) quake which killed more than 6,400 people. Motivated by the prospect of death I began to think of ways to avoid being killed, and wondered whether it would be possible to evacuate everyone from the city (tall order I know), and detonate subterranean charges to induce the earthquake. I understand there are other issues, such as the enormous re-location problems and lack of housing once the quake hits etc. but I just wonder as a geological issue, whether it is possible to bring on the quake so it hits us on our terms rather than its.

PS. Pre-emptive retort - I’m not moving

sorry moderators!! - my first post and I’ve put it in the wrong forum. Sheesh!

Which experts? You mean to tell me these experts can now predict earthquakes within a six-month time frame?

If so, did they predict last weekend’s Los Angeles quake? Why not?

In the San Francisco Bay Area, and other BADs will back me up here, we hear this every week on the news. The Big One’s coming. Can’t do a damn thing about it. But predicting earthquakes is one of the things science still has no real grip on. While we may be making progress toward it, we’re nowhere near having a useful system in place.

Prepare however you can (food, water, clothes, etc.) and don’t worry about it anymore.

Then again, you can always say, “This may be our last night on Earth,” and have a newspaper to cite it. :wink:

I was in the Bay Area for 18 months and can concur with Troy. Of course, it wouldn’t be until after we left that our former immediate neighborhood area would be hit with two earthquake swarms, one last November and the other earlier this month.

The swarms were not predicted.

I don’t believe any competent geologist would consider trying to induce and earthquake even if it were possible. And I’m pretty sure that it isn’t.

Definitely not.

And anyone worried about earthquakes hitting their city really should consider moving.

The 6 months warning issue is one of statistical probability, not objective certainty.

That really isn’t an option for millions of people who live in earthquake zones…
some of the most dangerous areas in the world are also very highly populated.
Restrictions on the free movement of humanity and general poverty cause earthquakes to be far worse than they should be…
in an idealised world, people would only live in earthquake zones under carefully monitored conditions.
Or if they chose not to care about consequences…

Thanks Troy - I think I remember you from such educational films as “Lead Paint: Delicious But Deadly,” and “Here Comes the Metric System!”. Love your work.

I tried your “This may be our last night on Earth” line, and the girl ran out of the bar in alarm yelling that she had some last minute shopping to do. Chicks!..

Well, Nostradamus supposedly predicted a cataclysmic quake in Southern California in the late 80s. As a result, a bunch of overweight folks from Arizona came out to LA and jumped up & down on Venice Beach, hoping to trigger the quake so that California would fall into the sea, turning their Arizona homes into valuable beachfront property.

Needless to say, it didn’t work, but it made a good story for the evening news.

I presume you meant to put this in GQ, so I’ll move it over there. For future reference, if you want a thread moved, you can alway e-mail the moderators of the forum it’s in and ask them to do it.

moderator GQ

Yes, you can induce earthquakes.

Build a dam, and let it start to fill up with water. The weight of the water will press down upon the earth, and the area will respond with a series of small quakes as it compensates for this pressure. (The technical term is isostasy…)

Also: if you inject water into deep wells under pressure, you can cause earthquakes. This was discovered accidentally, when people were trying this technique to get more oil out of oil wells.

(Authority: Prof. Abbott, San Diego State University, Geology Dept., who teaches a very popular class on Natural Disasters.)


Sad to hear it, cankerist, though the ‘Here comes the metric system’ pickup line always works for me. But I digress…

Hey, Yellowstone is supposed to blow up with a lot of special effects too - maybe we could build a power plant and harness the bastard? Make a hole to relieve some of the pressure so it doesn’t make a big hole in Wyoming, put a big turbine over it to grab some power, and pump the gas back down somewhere else so it doesn’t poison us, giving us a potential second power plant there.
Make them disasters do something useful, I say, instead of just hanging around shopping malls scaring sweet elderly ladies. Use the California Big One for generating electricity, giving back massages, selling electric toothbrushes[1] that don’t work with the label “Only for use in California” and charging inhabitants for being on the world’s largest waterslide.

And those glaciers during the ice age will be great for skiing.

[1]I know they don’t vibrate, not the ones I’ve seen, anyway, and not that I’ve studied electric toothbrushes, but I was trying to find something else than, well, the obvious thing that vibrates.