Experts: Earthquakes can’t be predicted

March 1, 2023 GMT

CLAIM: Astrologists and geologists predict that a massive earthquake similar to the quake that hit Turkey on Monday will strike India and Pakistan in 15 days.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. It is not possible to predict earthquakes, according to experts. While parts of India and Pakistan are very seismically active and scientists do calculate the probability that earthquakes will occur in various regions, there is no way to predict when and where earthquakes will take place.

THE FACTS: Following Monday’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria, claims spread on social media saying astrologists and geologists were predicting that a similar quake would hit India and Pakistan.

“Astrologists and geologists predict Turkey like massive earthquake in Pakistan & India in next 15 days,” reads one Instagram post. The post has garnered more than 4,000 likes since it was posted Monday.

But scientists can’t predict earthquakes, experts say. No scientists have ever predicted a major earthquake, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

“There’s no science, magic, or wizardry right now that exists that makes one able to predict an earthquake within a certain window,” said Michel Bruneau, a professor at the University at Buffalo and an expert in earthquake engineering. “Currently, scientists cannot predict earthquakes on a precise date.”

“We don’t understand some fundamental physics of earthquakes,” said Egill Hauksson, a research professor of geophysics at the California Institute of Technology. “Telling the time when an earthquake will happen has not been possible so far.”

Scientists do estimate the probability that earthquakes will occur in specific regions during certain time frames, according to the USGS.

“You can still do averages. You can still run statistics,” Bruneau said. “You can say, what’s the return period between small, medium and large earthquakes, and then run statistical analysis through all of that.”

India and Pakistan are very seismically active areas, Hauksson said. But the supposed prediction that a major earthquake will hit India and Pakistan in the next 15 days has no scientific merit.

“Scientists have tried every possible method to try to predict earthquakes,” Bruneau said. “Nobody has been able to crack it and make a credible prediction.”


This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.