ABSTRACT

The closure of the “L’Aquila Trial” has prompted the scientific community to revisit the question of what lessons have been learned. An issue of concern is the rise of short‐term forecasting in the aftermath of the earthquake that triggered the trial, such as using patterns of small earthquakes to provide probabilistic warnings of occurrence of damaging events in the ensuing day or week. Because most damaging earthquakes are not preceded by diagnostic precursory patterns and the vast majority of observed anomalies such as swarms of small earthquakes are not followed by a damaging event, forecasting of this type is not likely to be useful for mitigating seismic risk. Instead, long‐term earthquake preparedness should be the goal, and the most effective way of doing so is strengthening the built environment against earthquake shaking. Great progress has been made in this regard over the past few decades, and numerous lives were saved in a number of recent earthquakes owing to the implementation of earthquake‐resistant design and construction practices. Long‐term mitigation strategies face scientific, financial, regulatory, and cultural challenges. The scientific community should lead the way in dealing with these challenges.

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