Question: Do you think the accumulation of tension can be prevented in order to reduce the intesity of earthquake?

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  1. Hi catalinaa99!

    The sad and short answer for the short term is: no. 🙁

    And here’s a long answer:
    To prevent rising stresses on faults we would have to invent a mechanism that could divert all small stresses. One of those could be that a fault would be constantly moving very slowly (we call this creeping) and not stepwise with dangerous earthquakes. This fault creep exists for some faults on the earth.

    To make a very simple experiment this would be like this:
    If you press your flat hands together and try to move them, one in the one direction, one to the other, you have to overcome some friction.
    Now imagine your hands are wet or that you put some oil into your hands. And if you try to move them again, it’s really much, much easier. This is (very roughly) the same with “locked” faults and “creeping” faults.

    So, some of the faults we know are “lubricated” by clays or maybe even by fluids, and they produce less earthquakes than other faults. But can we humans change the property of a fault? Can put some fluids (or clay) into the fault? Or the rocks surrounding the faults? Somehow, yes. But only in special cases. And only close to the surface. But a fault roots deep in the crust. Even if you did inject some fluids, you still don’t really know yet wether you release the stress and everyone is happy or wether you produce an earthquake because the force you added was exactly what the fault “needed” to move. A dangerous thing.

    The problem is, that faults are really, really complex. It is nearly impossible to study every detail of the subsurface to know enough to change a thing. And then we would still need the technology for that. And now we are far away from understanding every detail you need to know. Rocks are way too irregular, too heterogeneous.

    The best thing we can do now and for the foreseeable future is to improve forecasts and make people be prepared and houses safer.

    Was that somehow helpful? I could go on a bit, I think, and write more, but maybe this would make stuff even more complicated?

    All the best,



  1. it was perfect. Thanks