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Predicting Problems

Seismology is the study of earthquakes. Seismologists use a tool called a seismograph to measure the strength, motion and location of earth movement. Using seismographs and other technologies, scientists are learning more about predicting where and when earthquakes and volcanoes will happen.

Photo courtesy of USGS.


What should you do during an earthquake?

You've probably had earthquake drills at school. In an actual earthquake, crawl under a table or your desk. This is to shelter you from falling objects. Stay in place even after the quake stops until you are told it is safe to move about.


Predicting a volcano eruption

Just before a volcano erupts, the faults around that volcano move more than usual. By using seismographs and other technology to measure the movement, scientists can warn people that the volcano could erupt. The predictions aren't perfect. In 1993, Galeras, a volcano in Columbia, erupted while a group of volcano experts were on top of it. Four scientists and five tourists were killed. The scientists knew that the volcano was active but didn't know when it would erupt.

Did you know?

There are some other ways to use technology to predict earthquakes other than seismographs. They are: 1) detecting bulges on volcanoes using a tiltmeter, 2) measuring different volcanic gases that “leak” from a volcano and 3) comparing satellite images from space of infrared radiation temperature changes.


What do you think?

Maybe you’ve heard about animals predicting earthquakes by their strange behavior right before one hits. Some scientists think that it is connected to Earth’s electromagnetic fields. One geologist, Jim Berkland, has used animals to correctly predict some earthquakes! Could this be a “technology” we could actually use in the future?


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Updated October 24, 2008 by: Glen Westbroek

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