It’s Really Hard to Predict an Earthquake, but Scientists Are Getting Closer

Political Transition and Earthquake Recovery in Nepal

Nepalis seem to be more fearful of floods than of earthquakes. Image credit: Skanda Gautam / Himalayan Times

When the earthquake struck, on April 25, 2015, killing nearly 9,000 people and damaging or destroying over half a million homes and buildings, Nepal was in the midst of its postconflict political transition. Nepal’s second Constituent Assembly was concluding debate on a new constitution with a new federal structure, and the country hadn’t held local elections in nearly 20 years. The political turmoil continued in the years of post-quake reconstruction, as troubled relations with India triggered a six-month border blockade, anger in the Terai over provisions in the constitution led to violent protests, and local elections were finally carried out in 2017. The hiccups from this political transition achieved in the face of natural disaster continue to this day…


It’s Really Hard to Predict an Earthquake, but Scientists Are Getting Closer

Earthquakes are among the most surprising natural disasters. Unlike, say, hurricanes, the early-warning systems for quakes are still in their earliest stages. But new studies from the Department of Energy’s Los Alamos National Lab are painting a more accurate picture of the stresses within the earth’s crust.

“It’s very difficult to unpack what triggers larger earthquakes because they are infrequent, but with this new information about a huge number of small earthquakes, we can see how stress evolves in fault systems,” says Daniel Trugman, a post-doctoral fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory, in a press statement.

“This new information about triggering mechanisms and hidden foreshocks gives us a much better platform for explaining how big quakes get started,” says Trugman, coauthor of a paper published in the journal Science in April, as well as a July study in Geophyiscal Research Letters…


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