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Is it possible to predict natural disasters? This is a question that people have been asking themselves for hundreds of years. Things like volcanic eruptions and earthquakes often take scores of lives just because no one sees them coming. No one has any time to get ready. Imagine if all of the people who were harmed by the tsunami in Japan could have known that it was coming in time to get as far away from the coast as possible. A lot of lives would have been saved. The disaster could not have been stopped or totally averted – after all, buildings and roads would still have been washed away – but people could have been saved.
As a result, scientists have put long hours into figuring out how to tell when something like that is going to happen. They know that there are signs because animals sometimes appear to know what is going on before it occurs. They also know that these same types of disasters tend to hit the same places over and over again. It is no surprise that there are so many earthquake in California, so the great San Francisco earthquake was less surprising than if the same thing had happen in Miami, Florida.
Using this idea and geophysical instruments manufactured by Advanced Geosciences, Inc., scientists have started doing things to help keep people safe. For example, some of these instruments can be used to find fault lines, where the tectonic plates come together. Most earthquakes are the result of these plates moving under the soil, so they happen on these predetermined fault lines. There is a huge fault line in California, which is what puts it at more danger for an earthquake than other parts of the country. This does not mean that scientists can predict exactly when something like this is going to strike, but they can at least know where it is most likely to occur.
By mapping out the fault lines and looking at charts of past activity, which show where the earthquakes are most likely to occur, scientist can then work with the local communities to take steps that will prevent the loss of life. Buildings that are constructed in high-risk areas are made in such a way that they are better able to take the abuse. While they could still be damaged, they are far less likely to fully collapse.