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[Tutorial:] Will a magnitude 6.0+ Earthquake hit California this year?

Note: This question is part of the Metaculus tutorial series on the art and science of making successful quantitative predictions. Additional useful information can be found at the Metaculus FAQ.

California is well-know to be very geologically active, and has in the past experienced major earthquakes: 15 recorded since the mid-19th century above magnitude 7.0. Even a 6.0 earthquake can cause significant damage, and there are 47 listed in the same source.

The USGS maintains a comprehensive searchable data store of past earthquakes around the world. Occurrence of specific earthquakes is notoriously difficult. However, their statistics are fairly well-characterized over long timescales: a reasonable prediction can be obtained by simply dividing taking the number of 6.0 or greater earthquakes that have occurred in the last N years and dividing by N. (For example, the Wikipedia list has 39 since 1900.)

Better estimates would integrate the Poisson probability distribution, would consider incompleteness in the early historical records, would consider correlated Earthquakes in the historical list, etc.

Will (at least one) magnitude 6.0 or greater earthquake strike California in 2016?

Feel free to explain your reasoning and numbers!


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Metaculus help: Community Stats

Use the community stats to get a better sense of the community consensus (or lack thereof) for this question. Sometimes people have wildly different ideas about the likely outcomes, and sometimes people are in close agreement. There are even times when the community seems very certain of uncertainty, like when everyone agrees that event is only 50% likely to happen.

When you make a prediction, check the community stats to see where you land. If your prediction is an outlier, might there be something you're overlooking that others have seen? Or do you have special insight that others are lacking? Either way, it might be a good idea to join the discussion in the comments.