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99.9% chance of ‘big’ L.A. earthquake soon? Why NASA and USGS can’t shake on it

When NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory determined a 99.9 percent likelihood for a magnitude 5.0 earthquake or higher within Los Angeles before April 2018, the US Geological Survey stepped in saying NASA wasn’t “clear” about the science behind its finding.

There will be an earthquake in Los Angeles – that much is certain – although it’s impossible to be certain about exactly when, where, and how powerful it will be. However, using methods doubted by some seismologists, scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) seem to be convinced that they have a pretty good idea. On October 7, the peer-reviewed Earth and Space Science journal published the group’s shocking findings.

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JPL based its incredible 99.9 percent figure on previous quakes, including last year’s M5.1 earthquake in La Habra, located 21 miles east of Los Angeles; GPS data, and aerial radar. The USGS, using what it considers the true scientific process, swooped in to more or less correct the record with their own figure – an 85 percent likelihood of such an event.

 

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