Only 10 years ago, most U.S. seismologists would have attributed to the dark arts any claim that earthquakes would be predictable. Yet at that very time the radical theory of global tectonics was being firmly established. Today, seismologists recognize numerous physical precursors to earthquakes. Earthquake prediction research is respectable in the scientific establishment.
A valid earthquake prediction specifies location, time of occurrence, size, and probability. Successful prediction of large earthquakes can lead to great reductions in economic and life losses; to increased safety and efficiency in critical facilities such as nuclear reactors, power grid control centers, and dams; and to there turn of a populace to normal living patterns following a damaging earthquake.