There is a 100 percent chance of an earthquake today. Though millions of persons may never experience an earthquake, they are very common occurrences on this planet. So today, somewhere, an earthquake will occur. It may be so light that only sensitive instruments will perceive its motion; it may shake houses, rattle windows, and displace small objects; or it may be suffieiently strong to cause property damage, death, and injury.
It is estimated that about 700 shocks each year have this capability when centered in a populated area. Fortunately, most of these potentially destructive earthquakes occur in relatively unpopulated areas.
Since a major portion of the world's earthquakes each year center around the rim of the Pacific Ocean (Ring of Fire), referred to by seismologists as the circum-Pacific belt, this is the most probable location for today's earthquake. But it could hit any location because no region is entirely free of earthquakes.
Stating that an earthquake is going to happen today is not really "predicting earthquakes". To date, they cannot be predicted, but anyone, on any day could make this statement and it would be true. This is because several million earthquakes occur annually; so, thousands occur each day, although most are too small to be located. The problem is in pinpointing the area where a strong shock will center and when it will happen.
Earthquake prediction is a future possibility. Just as the Weather Bureau now predicts hurricanes, tornadoes, and other severe storms, the National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) may one day issue forecasts on earthquakes. Earthquake research was stepped up after the Alaska shock in 1964. Today, research is being conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and other federal and state agencies, as well as universities and private institutions. Earthquake prediction may some day become a reality, but only after much more is learned about earthquake mechanisms.
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