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2015 Potential Uses of OEF Meeting

Conveners: Ned Field and the Working Group on California Earthquake Probabilities
Dates: March 16-19, 2015
Location: USGS Powell Center, Fort Collins, CO
SCEC Award and Report: 15176

Meeting Goals: To brainstorm on the various potential uses of Operational Earthquake Forecasting (OEF, which will provide real-time information on earthquake likelihoods), and to come away with a prioritized list of planned implementations.

Background and Meeting Strategy: 

Scientists have a variety of ways of modeling the spatiotemporal clustering of earthquakes, each of which embodies different assumptions, approximations, and simplifications with respect to a very complex and largely obscured natural system. Candidate OEF models have been put forth by scientists in the past, only to be criticized by others for the ways in which they are lacking (that’s what we do as scientists), which has essentially delayed OEF implementations. However, given “all models are wrong, but some are useful” (Box, 1980), it is probably more important, if not critical, to define the potential uses before defining the best scientific model(s), where the latter should adhere to Einstein’s famous phrase: as simple as possible, but no simpler.

This meeting is therefore aimed at surveying the range of possible uses of OEF. While we hope participants will have some good ideas about how they might utilize OEF, we do not expect the full spectrum of potential uses to be immediately obvious, which is why the meeting will be more of an interactive brainstorming session (e.g., 50% of the time dedicated to discussions). In short, we would like potential users to describe the types of decisions they need to make, and what type of OEF information they think they could use to do so. Similarly, we will hear from model developers on the types of potentially useful information they think they could produce. Others will describe challenges and best practices with respect to communicating OEF information.

The outcome will be a prioritized list of potential uses and users, from which a smaller group will prepare a phased-implementation-plan over the two days following this meeting. Important to the latter will be the identification of 2 or 3 different user groups that are willing work with us in order to deploy something useful. The findings of this meeting will be published for the benefit of others. Future meetings will address: 1) the best-available science (given the planned uses); 2) operationalization challenges; and 3) verification and validation.