No predicting next Philippine earthquake, U.S. expert says

MENLO PARK, Calif. – The Philippines is on alert, after experts anticipate a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that could cause widespread damage and tens of thousands of deaths.

The warning comes just weeks following the massive tremor that devastated Nepal, which destroyed buildings and killed over 8,000 people.

Dr. Walter Mooney, who is a research seismologist and geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), says that Filipinos are right to prepare, but reminds us that there is no way of determining the next earthquake.

“We haven’t succeeded in finding a way of predicting the time, place, and magnitude of earthquakes so earthquakes are not predictable,” said Dr. Mooney. “The best we would do is discuss likely locations and general probabilities.”

The USGS monitors and records all reports of earthquakes around the world.

Dr. Mooney says that the Philippines is experiencing normal earthquake patterns.

“Last year [the Philippines] had 197 earthquakes,” said Mooney. “Most of them were about magnitude 4.5, some were five, and some even got up in the mid-sixes. So it’s certainly wise to prepare and to think about earthquake preparedness but there’s no reason to be alarmed or to think anything is different today than it is everyday in the Philippines.”

Due to the Nepal earthquake, many have wondered if this could trigger earthquakes in other locations in the near future.

“We don’t see any evidence that a Nepal earthquake which is very far away is influencing either the number or the size of earthquakes that are naturally occurring in the Philippines,” said Mooney.

Recently here in California there has been a string of magnitude four earthquakes occurring in Southern California.

Dr. Mooney also says that this is normal.

“There’s lots of reasons to get prepared and there’s lots of reasons to think about earthquake safety but we are not entering an unusual period of time,” said Mooney.

The USGS says there are currently no advisories to reduce travel, or to avoid certain regions.


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