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Sioux Falls Scientists endorse Earthquake! for showing how scientists are
struggling to predict earthquakes. It's not easy and the clues are few.

Earthquake!

Earthquake! (2007) - 56 minutes
Earthquake! at Amazon.com

"Only fools, charlatans and liars predict earthquakes."

So quipped the late Charles Richter, who knew enough about nature's ultimate upheavals to invent the scale by which they are measured.

Nevertheless, prediction is the siren song of earthquake studies - the alluring problem on which reputations can be won or wrecked. Not just careers, but millions of lives and billions of dollars depend on the ability of scientists to say just when and where the earth will move. In fact, much of the entire history of earth science has been a struggle to account for the periodic lurching of solid ground. Follow as Nova takes a look at the high-stakes quest to predict earthquakes.

12-14-16 Sentinels map Earth's slow surface warping
Sentinels map Earth's slow surface warping
British researchers are now routinely mapping a great swathe of Earth's surface, looking for the subtle warping that ultimately leads to quakes. The team is processing satellite images to show how rocks in a belt that stretches from Europe's Alps to China are slowly accumulating strain. Movements on the scale of just millimetres per year are being sought. The new maps are being made available to help researchers produce more robust assessments of seismic hazard. The kind of change they are trying to chart is not noticeable in the everyday human sense, but over time will put faults under such pressure that they eventually rupture - often with catastrophic consequences. "We may well discover regions that have very small strain rates that we have not been able to detect before," said Dr Richard Walters "And that may well tell us that earthquakes are more likely in some areas that traditionally have been thought of as being completely stable and not at risk of having earthquakes at all."

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Earthquake!

Sioux Falls Scientists endorse Earthquake! for showing how scientists are
struggling to predict earthquakes. It's not easy and the clues are few.