A US geophysicist claims he can accurately predict the timing of future earthquakes.
And to back up the claim he predicts the next big quake, measuring at least 6.4 on the Richter scale, will hit southern California by September 5.
Professor Vladimir Keilis-Borok says he can foresee major quakes by tracking minor tremors and historical patterns in seismic hotspots.
His team at UCLA's Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics accurately predicted a 6.5 quake in central California last December as well as an 8.1 one that struck the Japanese island of Hokkaido last September.
"We have made a major breakthrough, discovering the possibility of making predictions months ahead of time, instead of years, as in previously known methods," said Keilis-Borok, 82.
If accurate, the prediction method could be critical in an area like California, which is criss-crossed by fault lines that have spawned devastating quakes over the years including ones which ravaged San Francisco in 1989 and Los Angeles in 1994.
The UCLA team, made up of US, Japanese, Canadian, European and Russian experts in pattern recognition, geodynamics, seismology, chaos theory, statistical physics and public safety, says it has developed algorithms to detect earthquake patterns.