Earthquakes have plagued the world since time began. While modern man knows what causes them,?
CU AND LVs: Library film montage seismograph working and earthquakes devastating buildings. (10 shots)
CU AND LVs: ARIES earthquake project antenna being moved by truck from Palos Verdes, California, USA, to nearby Saddle Peak. (5 shots)
GVs: antenna being erected (9 shots)
LV AND GVs: completed antenna on hillside overlooking Santa Monica Bay. (3 shots)
GV: hillside showing Santa Monica-Malibu fault in rock strata.
SV: ARIES project manager Peter MacDoran standing beside antenna, talking to camera.
CU: (MacDoran voice continues over) animated graphics ARIES antenna receiving signals from outer space quasar.
SVs: (MacDoran voice over) fixed antennas in Mojave Desert and Owens Valley, California (2 shots)
SVs: surveyor using laser-beam land survey equipment (5 shots)
GVs: section of California San Andreas rock fault. (3 shots)
LV, CU AND GVs: (MacDoran voice over) earthquake-detecting equipment beside fault, and sun setting over Saddle Rock antenna (7 shots)
REPORTER: "It begins, and is recorded like this, and its results can be shattering. Earthquake - many times devastating; still unpredictable.
But there are serious efforts underway right now to help better understand the dynamics of earthquakes, and one day be able to predict their occurrence in advance. One of these efforts is being carried out be NASA's (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. It's called Project ARIES, short for Astronomical Radio Interferometric Earth Surveying. What you are seeing here is the move of the transportable ARIES antenna from Palos Verdes, California, to Saddle Peak -- overlooking Santa Monica Bay but more importantly sitting right on the Santa Monica - Malibu fault. What NASA scientists are doing is looking at subtle changes in the ground which are thought to precede earthquakes. To do this they are using distant objects known as quasars, as a frame of reference."
ARIES PROJECT MANAGER PETER MACDORAN: "Quasars are objects that are perhaps at the edge of the universe, and they emit random radio signals. Those random signals arrive at the Earth and are received at a station, ARIES-this transportable 30-foot antenna- as well as fixed antenna in the Mojave Desert at Goldstone and at the Owens Valley Radio Observatory."
REPORTER: "Before the ARIES technique can be broadly accepted by earthquake prediction researchers, its accuracy must be verified. This is being done with the help of the Commerce Department's National Geodetic Survey, who believe the new system could vastly improve traditional land surveying as well.
"This is just a tiny section of the San Andreas fault which runs through California. Small shifts in the land, either up or down, are measurable and constantly occurring."
MACDORAN: "Thus, by taking a measurement here initially, at this site at this time, and then revisiting this location a year from now, or two years from now, we will be able to discern those subtle changes in the earth's crust which may be indicative of strains accumulating to be relieved later as an earthquake."
REPORTER: "While there are still many unknowns, NASA's Project ARIES is an attempt to accurately measure slight shifts in the land -- a technique that may one day play a key role in predicting earthquakes."
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Earthquakes have plagued the world since time began. While modern man knows what causes them, he cannot predict when the next shattering explosion of shifting rock will destroy another town or city. The list of earthquake disasters is a roll-call of death. Tokyo, 1923 - 143,000 killed. China 1920 - 180,000. Messina, Italy, 1908 - 160,000. In recent years, Turkey, Iran Italy, Rumania -- and Tangshan in China, when three quarters of a million people died in the world's most horrifying earthquake for centuries. But in the future, signals from outer space may help predict earthquakes before disaster strikes. 'Project ARIES' is underway in the United States to examine the possibilities. A report from California, itself an earthquake zone.