Have there been any instances where seismologists have successfully predicted the occurrence of earthquakes?

If so, then why has the number of scientists working on this area has declined (as compared to topics like Hazard Assessment) ?

  • $\begingroup$ In Japan, once the P-wave is detected, an alert goes out (experienced this many times) - but this is P-wave detection, not prediction. $\endgroup$
    – user889
    Oct 30, 2014 at 0:09
  • $\begingroup$ Keep in mind that insurance companies and policymakers are increasingly interested in hazard assessment of all types. It is my understanding that policymakers have shifted from over-emphasizing earthquake hazard to under-emphasizing it and vice versa. These years the emphasis seems to be rising in most western world countries but not in Greece. I cannot tell exactly why. $\endgroup$
    – marathon16
    May 28, 2015 at 1:43

1 Answer 1


The Haicheng Earthquake is the only successful evacuation of a devastating earthquakes. It's notable that the Chinese scientists thought they had figured out ot predict earthquakes, but have subsequently failed to predict many catastrophic earthquakes and many people's lives have been ended, ruined, changed.

It is news to me that this research is in decline, but there has been recent scrutiny for failing to predict earthquakes. This type of research is very hard, and probably not answerable, here is a related question:Is earthquake prediction possible?

Hazard assessment is much easier because we can model many different types of known earthquakes and infer the damage from that. There aren't as many unknowns, it seems, for what happens after an earthquake as there is during the buildup. Plate Tectonics is complex as we live in on a dynamic planet.


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