2. Why earthquakes are nearly impossible to predict
In the past 30 years, early warning systems for earthquakes that use sensors and software have been installed around the world to give people valuable seconds to protect themselves as best they can. Such a system likely saved thousands of lives in Mexico City last week and there are calls to finish an early warning network being installed on the West Coast in the U .S.
The key question: Those systems sense rumbles that are already underway. So, is there a way to actually predict an earthquake?
The bottom line: Erin spoke with seismologists about whether it's possible and found that scientists are not that close to predicting earthquakes in the traditional sense of looking for precursors.
"We're no closer to earthquake prediction than we ever were, and are perhaps farther in that we now understand the difficulties better," says Robert Geller, a seismologist at the University of Tokyo.
Yes, but: There are operational earthquake forecasts. Some geologists combine data gained about particular faults with algorithms for assessing the probability of an earthquake occurring at a time and place.