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Daily Earthquake Forecasts for CA Now Online

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Starting today, Californians will be able to check the Internet for their daily earthquake forecast.

A map, which can be viewed at pasadena.wr.usgs.gov/step/, shows, in color coding, the probability that a location will be hit by severe shaking over the next 24 hours.

Large earthquakes are notoriously difficult to predict, partly because they don't occur often enough for scientists to gather data. The new model primarily forecasts the additional ground shaking that follows an earthquake.

To build their model, the scientists combined long-established earthquake probability models with information about California's faults, such as the San Andreas.

"The breakthrough is getting something like this to work in an automated sense, in real time, and to have it out there running on its own," said Matt Gerstenberger, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Pasadena, California.

Gerstenberger led the research, which will be published tomorrow in the academic journal Nature.

The U.S. Geological Survey will continually update the 24-hour forecasts on the Web site.

The color coding of the map, showing the probability of severe shaking, goes from blue (small probability) to red (great probability). But most of the information in the maps has to do with aftershock sequences.

"In the scientific race to improve our ability to predict earthquake[s], it's the horse to beat."

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