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RE: California Earthquake Problems

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Hi, Rodrigo: 

You say: 
 >We can't asses the damage by relating to a Richter magnitude, we would have
to 
>develop site & fault-specific indexes to be able to barely get close to what
the extent 
>of the damage to a certain structure could be.  

The purpose of the seismic code is not to assess the damages caused by an
earthquake but to minimize the damages in case the EQ strikes, and before such
assessments are attempted to be made.

You also say:
>On the other hand, I'm not very sure about the scientists being able to
predict (within 
>a reasonable anticipation of the event so as to permit the spread of panic)
the location 
> and magnitude of an earthquake.
> Sounds like an  X-files episode to me :)
    
I do not watch X-files so I cannot comment on that subject.

Please take a look at 
http://sepwww.stanford.edu/public/oldsep/joe/fault_images/lpgap.html site and
see that Loma Prieta earthquake was actually predicted/projected by Stanford
seismologists.
The key areas of major seismic activities along the San Andreas fault are now,
to a great degree, equally predictable/projectable. By creating similar graphs
(using the data from the USGS) you can project (not predict) where the next
San Andreas EQ event will probably occur also in Southern California. It will
take you some time to do it, but it can be done. 

The location of the next Northern California's San Andreas fault EQ is quite
visible on the Stanford site. 

Sincerely