But a team of engineers at Duke University in North Carolina, US, is making headway into better understanding the mechanical processes that allow earthquakes to erupt in the first place.
Although the research does not yet open the floodgates for precise earthquake forecasting, the engineers involved believe they are on the right track.
Professor Manolis Veveakis from Duke said: “We still cannot predict earthquakes, but such studies are necessary steps we need to take in order to get there.
“And in theory, if we could interfere with a fault, we could track its composition and intervene before it becomes unstable. That’s what we do with landslides.
“But, of course, fault lines are 20 miles underground and we currently don’t have the drilling capacity to go there.’