NO, we cannot predict quakes (yet). Many
seismologists and geologists are furiously working
on this problem. There are some things that happen
before a quake that may be useful. One is that the
land starts to slowly creep and this movement can
be detected using satellites. When the land does
move, tiny fractures form and rare gasses like
radon get emitted; these can be detected as well.
Sometimes water well levels fall quickly before
and during a quake. In short, a wide variety of
things are being studied to help us forecast
The answer is poorly. We know about how the
buildup of stress caused by movements of the
Earth's geologic plates is what supplies the
energy for earthquakes, and we know how rapid that
is because we know how fast the plates are moving.
We also know that this energy can be released in
many small earthquakes or fewer large ones, and we
know what kinds of faults give rise to different
sizes of quakes. However, individual quakes are
triggered when the sticking potential of the rocks
is smaller than the amount of energy available,
and the sticking potential depends on a lot of
things that we can't measure.
Some faults give off signals that they're going
to go - radio waves or smaller earthquakes - but I
don't believe we've managed to understand what
those will be for a given fault, if a fault that
sometimes gives warning will always give warning,
etc. Some earthquakes catch us by surprise.
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