earthquake prediction response and options for earthquake prediction, global and national earthquake
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EARTHQUAKE PREDICTION RESPONSE AND
OPTIONS FOR PUBLIC POLICY
Dennis S. Mileti Colorado State University
Janice R. Hutton Woodward-Clyde Consultants
John H. Sorensen University of Hawaii
Program on Technology, Environment and Man Monograph #31
Institute of Behavioral Science University of Colorado
This work rests partially on some of the data
gathered as part of National Science Foundation
Grant NSF-RANN-AEN 7442079 to the University of
Colorado, for which J. Eugene Haas and Dennis
S. Mileti were co-principal investigators. Most
of the work to produce this volume was done after
completion of that grant, and the Foundation is in no
way responsible for the ideas, findings or conclusions herein drawn.
Copyright ~ 1981
University of Colorado,
Institute of Behavioral Science NTIS Is authorized to reproduce and sell this report. Permission lor lurther reproduction must be obtained Irom the copyright owner.
Library of Congress
Catalog Card No.
The benefits promised by long or short-term earthquake prediction
technology are most likely to accrue only if careful efforts are made
by scientists and public and private decision makers to develop and
implement the methods and policies needed to prepare society for
response to possible earthquake predictions. This work has been written
to assist in that effort, and to provide some indications of how people,
organizations and society will respond to scientifically credible earth-
quake predictions. It is our intention to review the range of
possible decisions and behavior elicited by an earthquake prediction, to
examine the causes for those decisions and behavior, and to discuss
options for changes in policy which promise to maximize the benefits of
prediction while minimizing its potential social and economic costs.
In the first chapter we review briefly the history and status of
earthquake prediction, global and national earthquake vulnerability, the
range of adjustments to the earthquake hazard, the social benefits and
possible negative impacts (costs) of prediction, and some general arenas
of concern for public policy. Chapter II is a discussion of some social
responses to a few actual earthquake predictions and a hypothetical pre-
diction scenario. Chapter III is a review of the problems of method we
faced and which accompany social science research into questions about
future human behavior. The chapter also documents the different kinds of
data and studies on which this work and its conclusions are based. In
Chapter IV our findings are presented; earthquake prediction and warning
are cast in a model similar to other natural hazard warning systems, and
an earthquake prediction-warning system is divided into three constituent
elements: (1) giving information, (2) interpreting information, and
(3) responding to information. In the chapter we present conclusions
about people and organized social collectives with reference to each of iii
the three aforementioned elements of an earthquake prediction-warning
system. Chapter V, based on the conclusions in Chapter IV, suggests some
issues and options for public and private policy and action.
This work gives persons in public and private positions some tenta-
tive answers to questions about social response to earthquake prediction,
and, on that basis, proposes some possible and desirable changes in
policy. We write this report for people who are able to effect change
now and do things that will enhance the future use of earthquake predic-
tion technology. Our audience includes local, regional, and especially
state and federal policy and decision makers. Our contributions lie in
identifying the range of decisions that a variety of people and public
and private decision makers will be faced with during an earthquake
To some, this work may appear more technical than is necessary to
get our point across. To others, including academics and scientists,
this work will appear less technical than typical research accounts.
We hope that this mid-ground will make this work useful to both scientists
and agents of change.
Particular encouragement to write this work was given to us by
William Anderson of the National Science Foundation, and Gilbert F.
White of the Institute of Behavioral Science, University of Colorado.
We appreciate their moral support and we thank them for helpful review
comments on several earlier versions of the text.
We also extend our thanks to Kevin Jones and Craig Piernot, both
graduate research assistants at Colorado State University, for assem-
bling and processing much of the data. Typing for earlier versions was
provided at the Department of Sociology, Colorado State University; we
thank Kathy Brown, Helain Fox, Mary Timmer and Carmen Pando for giving
freely of their skills and time to help us assemble this and earlier ver-
sions of the manuscript. We are indebted to Sarah Nathe, a long-time
friend and colleague, for her assistance in editing the manuscript. We
are especially grateful to Roy Popkin of the American Red Cross, and to
Robert E. Wallace of the USGS, for their sincere and helpful reviews of
TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIST OF TABLES .
LIST OF FIGURES
1. INTRODUCTION...................... .. Earthquake Prediction and Prediction Research
History and status of earthquake prediction World experience with predictions Earthquake prediction research in the United States
Earthquake Vulnerability and Human Adjustments Global earthquake vulnerability National earthquake vulnerability Causes of earthquakes Range of human adjustments Interaction of adjustments t·1icrozonation
Earthquake Prediction Issues and Concerns Social utility of earthquake prediction Possible negative consequences Generic questions for public policy
Changes in the Time Parameters of Predictions
vi i i
EARTHQUAKE PREDICTIONS: EXPERIENCED AND IMAGINED The Palmdale Bulge The Los Angeles Prediction The Haicheng Prediction The Japanese Prediction Psychic Predictions Prediction of San Fernando, 1971 The Hypothetical Prediction Scenario
Preface to the hypothetical prediction The scenario-time phase one The scenario-time phase two The scenario-time phase three The scenario-time phase four
~1ETHODS OF STUDYING Hut1AN RESPONSE TO EARTHQUAKE PREDICTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ...
The Problems Minimizing the Problems Data Sources Techniques of Analysis
PREDICTION-WARNING DISSEMINATION AND RESPONSE Earthquake Prediction and Warning An Integrated Prediction-Warning System
System functions System links
TABLE OF CONTENTS (continued)
The Dissemination Function: Giving Information Warning credibility \~arning equity
The Dissemination-Response Link: Interpreting Information
Identifying risks Measuring the risk Information dissemination Information utilization
Responses Decision choices and prediction response Explanation of Response Goal-related response and negative secondary effects
Future Predictions and Likely Response Prediction parameters Possible future predictions Parameter variation and human response
ISSUES AND OPTIONS FOR PUBLIC ACTION Delegation of Responsibility
USGS responsibility Other agency responsibility
Insurance Resources Information
Understanding prediction technology Understanding earthquake risk Equity in information access
LIST OF TABLES
Information Dissemination ...
The Effects of Image of Damage on Earthquake Prediction Decisions ..... . .....
A Summary of Prediction Characteristics
A Matrix of Data on Prediction Response
Media Coverage of an Earthquake Prediction
Response Strategies . . . . . .
A Summary of SignificantResponse in Wilmington: Relationships .....
Successful Predictions of Potentially Destructive Earthquakes . . . . . . . . .
Adjustments to the Earthquake Hazard1-2
The Effects of Exposure to Risk (Insurance) on Earthquake Prediction Decisions .
The Effects of Exposure to Risk (Other Adjustments and Economic and Physical Indicators) on Earth- quake Prediction Decisions .
IV-7 The Effects of Access to Information on Earthquake Prediction Decisions . 111
The Effects of Commitment to Target Area (Economic or Operational Dependency) on Earthquake Predi cti on Deci sions . . . . .
The Effects of Resourc