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Despite the massive foreshocks, there was no way to predict that Japan's biggest-recorded earthquake was looming, said Paul Caruso, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in Golden, Colo. "We have big quakes there all the time," Caruso told OurAmazingPlanet. For all scientists knew at the time, the 6.3-magnitude quake that struck yesterday was the main shock, Caruso said. "Not every big earthquake has a foreshock but they all have aftershocks." [
Remember Japan though? They had a good size quake (7.2) 2 days prior to the main shock (9.0). Did they know there was a bigger one coming? How does one know for sure is my curiosity. I'd love to know the science, if there is such.
Q- What would be the odds of the Idaho 5.3 earthquake being a preshock event for a larger quake?
A- We don't know exactly what the odds are that there would be a larger quake. However, in California, with similar ~M5 earthquakes, 5-10% of the time, a larger earthquake follows.
Q- How long do the aftershocks from a quake this size last?
A- They usually last for days or weeks but can last longer in some cases.
Q- Does this activity have anything to do with Yellowstone erupting?
A- This doesn't have anything to do with Yellowstone erupting.
Q- With regards to the 5.3 in Idaho, are the aftershock sequences we've been seeing on par with quakes of a similar size with the same type of movement?
A- The number of "aftershocks" can vary substantially, so I don't think these are out of the ordinary.
Q- At what fault did the quake happen?
A- These quakes are located near the northern end of the Bear Lake fault. However, the epicenters are E/NE of it, so they did not occur along that fault. Thus, they probably occurred on a fault that was not previously known to be active.
Q- Any idea if it was blind thrust type quake or other?
A- These are normal faults (result from extension vs. thrust faults, which accommodate shortening). Thus it may be a "blind" normal fault, or an existing fault that's been mapped but wasn't known to be active. Odds are it's the latter, but I don't know for sure.
Q- How far do you think that we are from being able to predict and forecast earthquakes?
A- We're still a long ways to being able to "predict and forecast" EQs on human timescales, but we are pretty good at knowing where the EQs will be on timescales of thousands of years.