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Hazard forecasting in real time: from controlled laboratory tests to volcanoes and earthquakes

The inherent limits to the predictability of brittle failure events such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are important, unknown, and much debated. We will establish techniques to determine what this limit is in the ideal case of controlled laboratory tests, for the first time in real-time, prospective mode, meaning before failure has occurred.

This is important because the benefit of hindsight provides a significant positive bias in evaluating the predictability. With this experience, we will then apply similar techniques to natural systems to quantify the loss of predictability in an uncontrolled, more complex system at greater spatial and temporal scales.

A major technical aim is to develop an open-access, automated, web-based platform for real-time data collation, analysis and information exchange, enabling competing physical hypotheses and statistical methods to be tested and developed in fully prospective mode in an open, testable environment comparable to say daily weather forecasts. To do this will require applying state-of-the art statistical methods to the data in a high-performance computing environment, including formal quantification of model uncertainties and their effect on forecast consistency and quality.

To ensure that the resulting techniques are practicable and formally provide value for use in hazard planning and risk mitigation, they will be developed in collaboration with recent global earthquake forecasting initiatives and civil defence agencies. The results will improve our understanding of the physical processes controlling material failure in the laboratory and in the Earth, and will provide a sustainable, experience-based tool for rigorous fully probabilistic forecasting of volcanic eruptions and earthquake.

This project is currently under EFFORT project. Following the next link to get more information about it

1 January 2011 to 31 December 2013
Project members: 
Project Status: 
In progress