Forecasting Accuracy, Data Quality and the Haiti Earthquake
Open Hazards Group forecast a probability of less than 1% that an earthquake the size of the January 12, 2010 Haiti earthquake would occur within a 100 km radius of the actual location. Why?
Open Hazards forecasts rely heavily on data quality. The more data available, and the more reliable the data, the more accurate will be the forecasts. With only one global digital seismic station in the region, locations and magnitudes are not as precise, which means there is relatively poor data quality for that particular area.
While the methodology allows prediction of the probability (likelihood) of damaging events, 100% accuracy is always going to be a challenge in areas of the world where seismic monitoring and data collection is sparse. Open Hazards scientists compute probabilities based on where seismic activity has occurred in the recent past – and as forecasting methods improve, low probability events will be more accurately predicted.
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John Rundle is a Distinguished Professor of Physics and Geology at UC Davis and the Executive Director of the APEC Collaboration for Earthquake Simulations. He chaired the Board of Advisors for the Southern California Earthquake Center from 1994 to 1996. Read John's blog.